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Dickson Applauds Funding to Help Students, But Concerns Around Hardship Funds Remain

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, yesterday voiced his support for £10.4m of additional funding for higher education students struggling with the impacts the pandemic has had on their studies, and £1.7m to reimburse further education students for the increased use of their digital devices.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: “The pandemic has had a real detrimental impact on students in Northern Ireland causing financial pressure, housing uncertainty, and academic stress. In addition, many students have felt overlooked by the lack of support available.

“Although I am hopeful that this funding will go towards alleviate at least some of the pressures being faced, it is also important we look at student support mechanisms, to ensure they are accessible. In particular, I have concerns that the criteria for Student Hardship funds is too restrictive for students to actually access, and so I would call on the Minister look into this, and engage with universities to address it.

Mr Dickson concluded that: “The Department for the Economy is due to announce further support in the coming days, and I will be closely monitoring both the details of the rollout of the additional funding and any further packages yet to be announced, to ensure that there are no delays in students receiving the support they desperately need.”

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