A victory for hard-pressed students was revealed at the AGM two weeks ago with the announcement by Students’ Union president Gus Baker that the University are set to reinstate bursaries.
The U-turn comes after campaigning by the Students’ Union and the revelation in Epigram 243 that the axing of bursaries was set to leave Bristol as the least affordable English Russell Group university for poorer students.
The University’s current bursary scheme, under which students from low-income households recieved up to £1,260, is to be axed next year in favour of tuition fee waivers worth up to £5,500. Whilst this system is much more generous financially, many have expressed concern at the lack of support it gives students while they are attending University.
At this point details about the new scheme remain sketchy, and the final decision has yet to be passed by University Council. However, Epigram can confirm that the intention is to create a bursary level of £2,000 for students from the lowest income levels, which will means they will be able to choose to take some of their fee waiver as a bursary instead. Whether the bursary will be at £2,000 for all students or whether there will be several levels has yet to be worked out.
Lynn Robinson, deputy registrar at the University, told us, ‘Following discussion with Gus and colleagues, the VC’s senior team has agreed to recommend that students who will in future be eligible for fee waivers should be offered the possibility of taking £2k of their fee waiver in the form of a bursary. This won’t be separately means tested and currently those with incomes below £25k are eligible. We have had no discussions about the details of how this will work yet and this will now be discussed through other committees (our admissions and education committees primarily, at which students are represented)’.
Details on who exactly will benefit are also still unclear. Whilst the scheme, if approved, is likely to take effect from 2013, this may still leave Bristol’s 2012 intake with no bursary system once they arrive at the University.
Gus Baker told us, ‘Whilst we’re really pleased that the University has listened to us on this crucial issue, we’re concerned that this won’t be rolled out in time for the 2012 intake. They’ll have bills and rent to pay too’.