Reading graduates supporting current students with financial impact of COVID-1906 October 2020
Reading alumni and other supporters are being asked to help current students as they face financial challenges they could never have prepared for.
Many students rely on part-time or paid work in holidays to help make ends meet. But for many of our students, internships and summer jobs were cancelled, and many part-time employment options disappeared overnight because of COVID-19.
Paying the rent and finding money for essentials, for some, is now much harder.
For some students, that challenge is far greater because their family circumstances have also been heavily impacted by the pandemic. People who previously could help support them, such as parents, may now be out of work too, removing the family safety net.
At the start of lockdown, in March and April this year, the University saw a doubling of emergency requests for financial help. Those requests continue to come in daily, from students in desperate situations caused by the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
This is where Reading’s former students are stepping in to help.
Frances Verrinder – a Reading graduate and California-based psychotherapist – said she was inspired to make a gift to a current student at Reading so that others could benefit from the life-changing experience she had at university.
She said: “When I went to university it was almost free. The government paid our fees and our maintenance grants covered our food, accommodation and utilities. It was brilliant – people like me wouldn’t have been able to go to university without that support as we just couldn’t afford it. Students today aren’t in the same situation.”
When lockdown began, Frances’ whole practice moved online and caused her to reflect that students would now also be entirely reliant on online access and IT equipment.
She said: “What else could students possibly need more right now? Everything is online. A laptop is an essential item. It’s really important to me that students have access to fundamental essential equipment to continue their studies.
“It brings me enormous pleasure to know that my support could be the difference between a student having to drop out or being able to stay at Reading and complete their degree.”
The University’s Student Hardship Appeal launched this week and has already raised £13,000 in the first few days. But to ensure that no student is left behind, the appeal is calling on generous former students and supporters to help reach the target of £50,000 to support students who urgently need financial help to continue their studies.
The funding is in addition to the University of Reading’s regular bursary schemes, such as the University-funded Reading Bursary, which supports students from lower-income households, and the donor-funded Pioneer Bursary.