Background of the issue
I ran in Lead LUU for the role of Education Officer because I wanted to change the experience of low income students for the better, and ensure that students are getting the best value for money in their education. I felt that during the pandemic, the issues low income students were facing became exacerbated and it was clear that experience in Higher Education is impacted by income and finances. It was also apparent that many students could not access or did not know about the financial support and hardship funds available through the University.
My work as Education Officer
To address this issue, I wanted to hear from students about the costs they encounter during their time at university, and specifically the additional course costs that students had expected their tuition fees to cover. This work stemmed from my objective to ‘ensure education is worth the fees students are paying’, and the recently passed policy idea ‘The University should abolish all hidden course costs so that tuition fees cover all aspects of students’ education’. My end goal with this work was to ensure that financial support and hardship funds covered these additional course costs, and to eventually abolish them altogether.
The term ‘additional course costs’ includes anything students pay for to benefit their studies that are not covered by tuition fees. For example, resit fees, books, printing, online resources, technology, software, materials, clothing, field trips, etc.
Ayo Oladimeji – LUU’s Academic Engagement Assistant – and I worked together on the project, maintaining that a student should not feel disadvantaged at university due to their income or financial situation. By learning more about what students spend their money on to make learning easier, it has been possible to identify what financial support and hardship funding needs to cover.