By Keziah Smith
On Wednesday, Mary Foy, Member of Parliament for the City of Durham, questioned Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, calling him to refund university students for the cost of their accommodation whilst they are told to remain at their home addresses for the duration of the second term.
Foy informed Williamson that the arrangements put in place to support students have, thus far, been insufficient, describing the £20 million of hardship funding as “miserly.” She stated that this would not be enough to compensate for students’ financial losses, claiming “it is clearly unfair that students renting private accommodation will be left thousands of pounds out of pocket.”
The Durham MP continues to argue that, as the Government have requested the students to stay at their home addresses upon the commencement of the second term, it is hence their responsibility to cover the costs for accommodation at this time.
Gavin Williamson merely responds, “as I have already sort of set out, the Government, before Christmas, recognised the need to give additional support to students through universities, that’s why we put the additional financial arrangements in place to support them.”
Mary Foy, in reply, details that “it is astounding that the Education Secretary thinks that the threadbare support from the Government is enough. It is about time the Government reacted to current events and realised that when you introduce more restrictions, you also have to give more support.”
She later wrote on social media: “Gavin Williamson has badly failed students during this pandemic. While students have rightly been told to stay at home for now, the Government’s only support is a miserly £20 million.”