In response to the enormous issues that students experience as a result of rising costs, the University of Manchester has contributed £9 million to provide additional support for students. This contribution is made in the light of building an initial programme of well-being and financial assistance together with the Students’ Union.
Over £7 million has been committed as part of the most recent support package. In 2023, additional targeted support for those in greatest need will be announced as soon as possible, bringing the total amount of promised student aid to £9 million.
Each enrolled student will get a one-time cost of living payment. Students will receive payments into their UK bank accounts totalling £170 for full-time students and £85 for part-time students.
This sector-leading project is the product of ongoing conversations between the University and the Students' Union, which emerged directly from student input and Executive Officer proposals.
To support students over the winter months, the funds are anticipated to be rolled out before the holiday break. Just a few postgraduate courses at the professional level are not included.
It adds on previously announced financial support, including increases to the University's Cost of Living Support Fund and grants of up to £2,000 to struggling students, as well as raising the minimum stipend for all PGRs on a studentship funded directly by the University by more than £2000 for 2022/23.
The university has also set up help in the form of more affordable dining alternatives, complimentary microwaves and hot water, free showers, and free period products. To help students in covering the costs of their studies, library fines have been eliminated and free eBooks are now available. The Students' Union has organised study nights with free food in a comfortable setting, in addition to helping to provide free or discounted access to sports and recreation.
In collaboration with the Students' Union, the university is increasing the number of jobs available to students on campus, facilitating simpler access to short-term emergency financial aid, and sponsoring the creation of a new position of Money Advisor within the Students' Union. These and other measures are posted online and informed to students.
"We have valued working with the University on this initiative and are delighted they have listened to our ideas," said Sam Bronheim, Union Affairs Officer at the Students' Union. Adding, “With action like this, we hope students feel that, through the Students’ Union, their needs have not only been heard but met by the University.”
Professor April McMahon, Vice-President for Teaching, Learning, and Students, says that “the cost of living crisis is a major concern for our students, especially at this time of year. I’m so delighted that working closely with the Students’ Union, we’ve been able to offer this payment. We also have wider support in place including well-being and further financial support through our Cost of Living Support fund, so we would encourage any student that needs our help to please reach out.”
As for the cost of living support to staff, the University has stated previously that a cost-of-living payment of £1,000 to all colleagues paid within grades 1-8 (or to a total salary limit of £71,644 for employees on equivalent pay structures) who have been in post as of 1 October 2022. The payment will be made in two instalments: the first payment of £500 with the November payroll and the second payment of £500 with the payroll in January 2023. (for staff in post on 1 January). There is an opportunity to contribute this to other organisations or student support funds for individuals who would like to. The University is a Real Living Wage Employer already.
Furthermore, graduate teaching assistants will receive a 3% wage increase despite working flexible hours. The University thinks that providing this cost of living aid for staff and students is the proper thing to do at this difficult time, acknowledging that it is an important concern for almost all of the staff. This inevitably leads to difficult decisions concerning other planned investment areas for this year that must be reprioritised.