Intermitting students are classed by the Department of Work and Pensions as being full-time students, meaning they cannot claim loans and maintenance payments – an issue for those planning to take a year out of their courses in the first place.
This academic year CUSU began socials for students either having experiences of intermitting or are currently. The issues that were raised included the stress experienced over financial support over a whole year taken out of courses, in which many are unable to find work.
Intermitting students fall through a loophole in that student support is often closed to them during intermission, and that there are few grants available for their support – compared to those taking a year abroad, for example.
The University has attempted to fill this gap with a new hardship fund, but this has come under controversy as the money comes from the wages docked from UCU strikers earlier this year.
In an article posted on Friday, CUSU criticized the government and the University for being ‘irresponsible…to not extend their duty of care to student who have temporarily left their institutions, but for whom these institutions may be their only form of support’.
The petition posted on the UK Government and Parliament Petitions website also mentions the reasons for which many take a leave of absence in the first place, including illness, disability, and pregnancy. It argues that the current policy places these students into a ‘vulnerable’ position, and calls on the government to allow intermitting students to have access not restricted to: housing Benefit, Income Support, JSA, ESA, Universal Credit.
To garner a guaranteed response, a petition has to reach 10,000 signatures; to trigger a parliamentary debate, it needs 100,000, with a time of six months to achieve this.
At the time of writing, the petition has been signed by 125 people. It can be accessed in the link below and signed only by British citizens or UK Residents.