Posted Tuesday 2 June 2020
Kingston University's first ever emergency appeal, launched in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, saw incredible responses from all sectors of our community - alumni, staff, current students and friends and partners including Santander Universities, the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers and The Will Houghton Foudation. In just over two months, more than £140,000 was donated to support students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is already being distributed to students in need.
The current crisis has hit many people hard, with job losses, the struggle of juggling work and childcare, and isolation taking a toll on people's mental health. At Kingston University, we work hard to make a high-quality degree education available to people from any background, and we don't believe financial background, age, or disability should limit chances of going to university. We are proud that 39 per cent of our students come from families with household incomes of under £25,000 and that we have one of the highest populations of care-experienced students in the UK. We also work hard to attract mature students (who are more likely to have children or other caring responsibilities) and students with disabilities, who are also less likely to progress on to higher education. We believe a diverse student body makes for a more enriching academic environment and a better experience for all students. As so many of our students have overcome significant odds to simply attend university, this means many have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
Almost three quarters of our students have at least one part-time job to support themselves through university and many simply don't have family homes they can return to and where they can live rent-free for a time. Most students work in particularly negatively impacted industries such as hospitality and retail and, as many were on zero hours or casual contracts, they have not been eligible for furlough. For our students who have children or other caring responsibilities, the loss of paid work is felt even more acutely. Our student support and outreach teams have been working hard to check in individually with our most vulnerable students and our money advisers are already seeing a huge increase in applications for financial support.
In late March, we began reaching out to alumni, staff and friends in an effort to ensure we could help every student who needed it. We have been blown away by the response - from current students to our senior leadership team and everyone in between. People have given in their hundreds to ensure our students aren't forced to abandon their studies because of the pandemic. Santander Universities pledged £25,000 to support students graduating this summer into a highly uncertain job market and, thanks to other partner support, we have been able to ringfence over £40,000 for our most at-risk students who are part of our KU Cares programme. Our Student Wellbeing team has already begun distributing the remainder of the funds to students who were previously relying on part-time jobs which they have now lost. We are incredibly thankful for all the generosity we have seen, including from The Surrey Freemasons and the Rotary Club of Kingston upon Thames and the Rotary Club of Teddington and The Hamptons.
Although restrictions are slowly lifting, we expect the impact on our students to continue for many months to come. We will continue to do all we can to support them and our Student Hardship Fund will be more needed than ever. If you would still like to support our students, you can do so at https://kubacker.hubbub.net/p/StudentHardshipFund/.
Thank you to everyone who has been helping us to make a difference to our students' lives in these unprecedented times.