The Purpose

The Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund is the Students’ Union hardship fund. It is managed by the Students’ Union UCL Advice Service. The aim of the fund is to help UCL students who are experiencing financial difficulty and have no other form of support available (including further support from UCL student hardship funds). Successful applicants will receive grants to help them through a short-term period of unexpected financial difficulty.

Previous awards have been granted for use towards accommodation deposits, rent payments, transport cost, subsistence costs, childcare fees and to purchase specialist supplies or equipment.


Students are expected to have applied to the UCL Financial Assistance Fund before applying to the Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund. Don't worry, a rejected Financial Assistance Fund application will not stop students from applying to the Union fund, but they will be expected to show that they have exhausted all other available support options.


Eligibility and Award Criteria

The fund is open to all registered UCL students.

Applications will be considered from interrupted students if it is demonstrated that a grant would enable them to successfully return to or complete their studies. In exceptional circumstances applications will be considered from students at the end of their studies, but this will be on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the Union.

In their application, students must explain the financial plans they had in place for the duration of their studies. Applicants will also need to illustrate what unexpected or unforeseen events have caused their circumstances to change and leave them unable to meet their upcoming costs.

In addition. students are expected to show that they have a realistic financial support plan in place for after an award is made and used.

The fund is not a bursary or scholarship; we are not able to offer long-term support for ongoing financial commitments. Grants can be awarded to assist with one-off urgent expenses and short-term financial shortfalls for finite periods.

Grants will not be made to fund core course costs or tuition fees (either outstanding or upcoming).

Applications can be made once in an academic year. Additional applications will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

We anticipate awards will usually be around £1000 (or 1 month's living expenses). In exceptional circumstances awards may be granted up to a maximum of £3000.

Application Process and Evidence

Students can start this process by completing our Hardship Fund Contact Form. This form goes to our specialist Money and Budgeting Advisors who will then be in touch to make an appointment and meet with the student. During this appointment the advisor will discuss the individual's financial situation, current needs and eligibility before helping to submit the application.

Students apply to the fund by submitting a completed application form and the following documentation:

  • Recent bank and credit card statements for the last 2 months for all accounts held (including highlighting and explaining any income/expenditure over £100)
  • Evidence of substantial regular outgoings (such as tenancy agreement, utility bills, childcare payments etc...)
  • Evidence of income (such as pay slips)
  • Other supporting documents to evidence the reason for the application (such as quotes for repair/replacement/purchase of specific items, confirmation of tenancy deposit/rent amounts, quotes for travel costs etc...)

Once an application has been submitted, it is considered by a Hardship Panel made up of experienced Union staff. The Hardship Panel will usually meet fortnightly, but may meet more often in exceptional circumstances.

Please note, all applications are treated sensitively and all information is kept confidential.

Once a decision is made, the advisor will inform the applicant of the outcome and payment will usually be authorised via BACS (bank transfer).

If the application is unsuccessful, the student will be given reasons for this decision and can appeal if they disagree with the outcome. Their advisor will help them to do this, and any appeal will be considered by an Appeal Panel made up of senior Union staff and a Sabbatical Officer.

For more details, please read our Hardship Fund Guidance document.

Emergency Grants

If a student finds themselves in urgent need, they can apply for an emergency grant. Emergency grants are for a maximum award of £150 to help with immediate urgent living expenses (such as groceries, travel, childcare etc...).

Students apply for an emergency grant by submitting a written statement along with recent bank and credit card statements for the last 1 month via our Hardship Fund Contact Form.

Once this has been received, the student will be offered an appointment with one of our specialist Money and Budgeting Advisors as soon as possible to determine their needs.

If a grant is awarded, payment will normally be paid the next working day by BACS.

Applications can only be made once in an academic year. If a student remains in financial need after an emergency grant, they can submit a full application to the Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund for consideration.


About Sarah Douglas

The fund was set up in memory of Sarah Douglas, a long-standing employee of the Students' Union and UCL, in 2013. Sarah worked at the Union from 1988 to 2006, first as the Advice Manager and then as Membership Services Manager, before moving to the General Manager role at the IoE Students' Union.

Whilst at the Union she dedicated her time to improving the welfare of UCL students; her ethos was to put students first and always listen. As a colleague, Sarah was a thought of as an excellent manager who was very approachable and had a great sense of humour. She had a good relationship with UCL and made some major changes to the Union too, such as setting up our incredible Volunteering Service.

After Sarah's death, having consulted her family on how best to honour her memory, the Union created the Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund to help and support UCL students overcome financial difficulties during their studies.