These uncertain times can be challenging in so many ways and we want to support you as well as we can. On this page we have collated all Union, UCL and government advice and guidance documents around support available for students who have been financially affected by Covid-19.
To support you with your mental health and wellbeing we've put together some resources and helpful websites for you too.
Advice and Support
Confidential, independent advice on money, debt management and welfare benefits.
Support, advice and guidance for students who are struggling with money management or experiencing complex funding issues.
UCL Financial Support
Financial Assistance Funds
The Financial Assistance Funds are intended to support students who began their academic year having made realistic and adequate financial provision, but who have encountered unexpected circumstances that put them into financial difficulty. There are two separate funds, both of which are now open for the 2020/21 academic year:
**Please note, this fund is offered to support living costs only and will not be awarded to pay tuition fees. Students with outstanding tuition fee debt are not eligible to apply for this fund.**
Limited cash loans of up to £250 (interest free, usually for a period of 1 month) are available to students who have experienced a delay in their normal funding being paid. Payments are usually made by cheque collected in person, but this has now been changed to BACS payments.
Doctoral School Fellowship
A Doctoral School Fellowship supports research students who, due to unforeseen circumstances, have their funding interrupted or completely withdrawn. To qualify candidates must be progressing well academically and demonstrate that without financial assistance they would not be able to complete their studies. The amount of the award is based on the annual standard rate for UCL Studentships and will be pro-rated to cover the period support is needed.
The Head of Department must apply on behalf of the student (by email to the Head of Student Funding).
Medical Student Support
The UCL Medical School has various funds available, including hardship funds. Application details can be found here. They also provide links to external sources of financial support for medical students.
The NHS Hardship Grant may also be able to provide support.
Support for Students on Initial Teacher Training
On 7 April, the government released guidance for providers to help reduce the impact of Covid-19 on initial teacher training provisions. This guidance confirms that bursaries, scholarships and school-direct salaried and postgraduate teaching apprenticeship grants will continue to be paid as normal.
Support for Students Studying Abroad (Erasmus+)
The British Council have now confirmed the following:
- Students who are continuing with their studies/work online from either their host or home country, are eligible to receive their full grant amount outlined in their grant agreement.
- Students who are not following online learning/work, are eligible to receive funding for the actual duration they were abroad, and for extra incurred costs, such as for their rent in the host country. These students must submit evidence of extra incurred costs.
- Students who were due to start their term 2 placement but can no longer go due to travel advice should, in the first instance, attempt to claim their money back through insurance. If this is not possible, students should contact the UCL Study Abroad team for support (evidence of the costs incurred will be needed).
For more information, please see the FAQs for Study Abroad students about coronavirus (covid-19).
Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund
The Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund is administered through 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 usually receive grants to help them through a period of financial difficulty. Students are usually expected to have applied to for the UCL Emergency Loan or FAF.
Student Loans Company
The Student Loans Company (SLC) confirmed on 20 March 2020 that students will receive their maintenance loan as usual during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Given the financial impact of the current situation on many students, it may be advisable for those already receiving student finance to consider contacting SLC for a reassessment if their family income has been significantly affected. Students should contact the Student Funding Advisor to discuss this further.
Standard Funding Options
- Student Finance: as explained and listed above
- UCL Undergraduate Bursary: Students are assessed based on the data shared by the regional funding authority.
- Estranged Student Bursary: Applications via Portico for bursary of £1000 per year for students who meet the definition of estrangement from their family.
- Care Leaver Bursary: Applications via Portico for bursary of £1000 per year for UK undergraduate students who live/have lived in care.
- UCL Funding information: UCL have summarised the options available to students of all levels.
- Scholarships: Use the scholarships finder to identify available scholarships (to note, most applications close in October but some funds are available later in the year).
- External Scholarships: primarily for postgraduate students. Online aggregators like Postgraduate Studentships, Scholarship Search, Postgraduate Funding and International Financial Aid and College Scholarship Search contain information on a variety of external schemes. Postgrad.com has a selection of bursaries that are open to postgraduate students from anywhere in the world.
- UCL Doctoral School: Information on available funding and scholarships for researchers.
- Online Noticeboard: External organisations that contact the UCL Funding team with funding opportunities are posted here.
- Turn2Us Grants Search: database contains information on over 3,000 charitable funds offering welfare and educational grants, as well as other support and services.
Government Support for those Affected by Covid-19
The Chancellor has announced a package of government backed support for those affected by Covid-19. Unfortunately most of these measures may not apply to students as they (usually) do not qualify for welfare benefits or other contractual employment benefits. However, if students choose to interrupt their studies or their student status changes, they may become eligible for this support.
Students who are employed, including those on part time and ‘zero hours’ contracts - should check their contract for any information on rights to sick pay, changes to their employment conditions, pay etc. and what should happen if their employer wants to end their employment. You may be asked to go on ‘furlough leave’ and be paid 80% of your average earnings, if your place of work has to close or has no work for you to do during this time.
Students who are self-employed - may be able to benefit from government support measures.
Most students are not eligible for welfare benefits, however you might be able to claim if you’re disabled, have children, are a part-time student or are over 60 years old. If you’ve had a drop in your income, you may now be entitled to a different amount than before.
If you are eligible, some benefit rates have been increased in response to Covid-19, and some rules around assessments and meetings have been relaxed also. You can contact the Advice Service if you’re unsure about your eligibility or any aspect of claiming. Here is a useful summary of all your rights, and all the different types of support available to those in various circumstances. You can contact the Advice Service if you need more help. The measures introduced to protect renters during this period may be of more benefit to students, particularly the extended 3 month notice period to seek possession of a property.