Give credit not criticism to the University’s financial support

Thomas Nickols 21 November 2013

This University has come under a wealth of criticism from student media this term for its lack of financial support. This should be tempered. Not least because raising awareness is important to improving the socioeconomic diversity of our university, by ensuring no one is put off applying due to concern about costs. That is not to say that no student at Cambridge will ever have any financial difficulties, but that the University does a pretty good job in helping those who do, and preventing the situation arising in the first place.

Recently mainstream media have picked on Cambridge as well. The Telegraph claimed “Cambridge and Bristol have become the most expensive cities for students to live in, overtaking even London, due to rising rental costs.” This may be true, but is an irrelevancy to the majority of Cambridge undergraduates, given the guaranteed in-college housing offered for three years. The shorter term contracts (often 30 weeks) means that the total cost rarely exceeds £5,000.

To put this in perspective, for those who come from low-income families, the combination of Student Finance and the Cambridge Bursary alone was able to provide up to £10,677 per year for students matriculating this year (of which over £7,000 would not have to be repaid). Any student who suffers financial difficulty and is already claiming their maximum Student Finance entitlement, can apply for grants up to £1,000 each year (£2,000 exceptionally) from the three Abbott, The Bell and Barnes Funds. On top of this, many, if not all, colleges offer some form of hardship funding.

Cambridge offers excellent financial support. Most of us are constantly worrying about academic work, sport, friends, but fortunately not money. The University should take some credit for that.