The Access to Learning Fund, which is avaiable to home students who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulty, has received a £100,000 cut this year due to changing priorities in the Higher Education Sector. The fund, which is adminstered by HEFCE (The Higher Education Funding Council for England), has had a much larger proportion of it's finances targetted towards Part Time students after the Government allegedly enforced a priority change on the Council. With the low percentage of part-time students at Imperial, College has been hit with an unexpected shortfall.
The Student Funding Department usually attempts to cover applications in full but are this year advising students not to expect more than 50% of the amount they apply for to be funded through this channel. Students at other institutions may be experiencing even greater hardship as it is normal practice across the sector to only fund 50% of the initial application to ensure the funds reach the greatest number of people.
Student Funding Officer, Amanda James, reassured Live! that "We don't want to spread mass panic. We manage our money very well." Students who think that they would be elligible for money from the Access to Learning Fund should not be put off from applying. If an application is made for £1000 you may still receive up to £600 with an opportunity to review your situation and top up the money later in the year.
Students should be aware however that monies needed in an emergency could not come through as quickly as they would like. One student seeking to access the fund in the Student Hub today was in search of cash to cover their accommodation fees after College made a 'comptational error' causing their Student Loan to be delayed. Instead of being able to take an emergency loan the student was issued with a letter addressed to the Landlord explaining that the error was the College's and asking for leniency.
Live! got the impression that Student Funding, faced with a potential disaster, were coping remarkably well with thinking outside the box. You can find more information about the Access to Learning Fund and download applications from the Imperial College Website.