Cambridge SU demand £2.1 million for funding extensions

Cambridge SU’s Postgraduate Officers, Aastha Dahal and Siyang Wei, have called for the University to urgently provide £2.1 million for a scheme to grant funding extensions for doctoral students whose work has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Cambridge SU’s Postgraduate Officers, Aastha Dahal and Siyang Wei, have called for the University to urgently provide £2.1 million for a scheme to grant funding extensions for doctoral students whose work has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This demand is informed by the SU’s Postgraduate Funding Survey, and forms part of the SU’s ongoing campaign to tackle the postgraduate funding crisis, and aims to address the gap in extension funding for self-funded students.

The survey was launched in February this year after a motion to address the issue of extensions was passed by Student Council, and was completed by over 600 postgraduate students. A full report on the data will be published by the SU in June; however, initial findings indicating the severity of the crisis for self-funded students in particular have necessitated more urgent action.

While students in receipt of funding from bodies such as UKRI or private corporations may have access to COVID-related extensions via those routes, 20% of the University’s approximately 1000 doctoral students are self-financing, leaving them without funding beyond the period for which they initially budgeted and ineligible to apply for extensions. The survey found that almost 60% of self-funded doctoral students had had the completion of their course delayed by the pandemic - meaning that hundreds of these students are currently experiencing or in danger of severe financial difficulties that could derail their studies and careers.

The proposed extension scheme, which would take place in Michaelmas 2021, would address this crisis by providing 3-month extensions for 570 doctoral students, at the University’s postgraduate admissions maintenance rate. Students who started their course before Michaelmas 2020 would be eligible, with a priority on self-funded students and others who are ineligible for any other source of extension funding. 

This proposal is also intended to relieve pressure on the University’s postgraduate hardship funding, which is currently the only route of additional funding for many self-funded students, despite the application process and low maximum amount available making hardship funds unsuitable for those in need of a funding extension.

 

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