Hard pressed to find financial aid: is it time for the government to update their first aid kit?

AS MANY of you will have experienced – either for the first time or what will most likely not be the final time – getting money from student finance, the university or the government is like having an enjoyable night in Why Not (Yoko’s) sober; damn near impossible.

Student_protest_march_past_Houses_of_ParliamentWith the Welsh Government’s plans to scrap the FCF (Financial Contingency Fund) this just got made a lot harder. Even if it is postponed until next year, my condolences go to those who wish to attend university whilst trying to survive on Morrison’s Saver’s items. For those students who have never learnt to budget, cannot find a job, or like myself have an intense shopping addiction it is a safety net that many students need, and indeed have been using to help them get back on track. My housemate last year needed this fund to support his studies as his parents could not afford to supplement his loan – many students find themselves in this position and it makes me wonder what exactly the Government thinks it is we as students spend our money on, and how far they think the bank of mum and dad stretches. Regardless of whether it’s books, travel, food or alcohol every student should have the right to be given a helping hand when the inevitable shit hits the fan, because we as a generation were not taught how to budget for years at a time.

I’m sure the government intended for this to be a positive move, allowing universities more control over the amount of money available and therefore who it is available to, rather than some funds going unused or to those less deserving. However, with a university as financially stricken as ours – let’s not act like it’s a surprise – this can only negatively affect students, not just in 2014/15 but worse so in 2015/16. Perhaps a wiser move would have been to start teaching budgets to secondary school leavers, as my mother learnt back in the 70s, rather than cutting funding from the top immediately.

Furthermore in places like Aberystwyth, where rent is astonishing and food prices cut us deep, it’s quite easy to imagine that the people behind the cut have never been in our position. They couldn’t begin to imagine how a student from a low income family, with divorced parents or a poor international background manages to scrape by without a job and still get relatively high grades. The FCF has been a great help to over 5,000 students in the past and should continue to be for years to come. I know they would ask “where do you expect this money to come from?”, but the same question appears when the University are called upon to bring up funding on their own. The answer in the case of the University is that financial aid may simply not be available due to lack of funds, yet unused campus buildings will remain within control of the university (but that’s a whole other kettle of fish).