Students missing out on vital financial support

first_imgA survey conducted by Cherwell has revealed that up to eighty percent of Oxford undergraduates are not aware of the university funding available to them.One student from St Catherine’s said that the university had “not been very forthcoming” with information on funding available, while another student from Exeter described the application process for certain grants as “amazingly bureaucratic.”Sixty students from different colleges, years and economic backgrounds took part in the survey. Half of those questioned had received funding from the university, in the form of hardship or travel grants or the Oxford Opportunity Bursary.Of those who had never been given or applied for any college or university funding, around thirty percent said that this was because of lack of information. A further thirty percent claimed the application process was “confusing,” while the remainder said that they had never needed financial help.Over half of the respondents claimed to know the funding available for them at their college, but only twenty percent of those questioned could name any of the funds, or knew specifically what they were for.A student at Jesus said: “I know there is somewhere to get money from.” When shown a list of the thirteen separate grants at the college, which fund academic and non-academic travel as well as sports and music, he said he was “amazed.”“I have never seen these before,” he said.Another of the students questioned said that they had received a £500 travel grant, but was “not sure of the title” of the fund. Sixteen of those surveyed received the Oxford Opportunity Bursary, which gives students up to £3,145 pounds a year depending on their household income. Of this, only five were aware that they were entitled to apply for an ‘Enhanced Bursary’ which offers students up to an extra £1000 a year.“I wasn’t made aware,” said one Wadham undergraduate, although he admitted that missing out on the bonus may have been his own fault. “I can’t work out why [I have never heard of this]…whether it was just me being unobservant of emails in my account,” he added.The £1000 top up is sponsored by multinational companies such as Citi Foundation, IBM and Man Group.Sixty percent of all the students questioned said they had not been emailed or informed of the grants by their colleges, but had had to research them themselves.An Exeter undergraduate spoke about how he was put off applying for a travel grant which is be given to students to fund a trip round the world, meeting college alumni as they travel.“There’s a very slim chance of getting it and you have to spend literally hours writing a plan of exactly where you’re going to go,” he said. “You don’t know where these alumni live so you may find out later that your plan isn’t even possible.He added that the additional bureaucracy surrounding the application “put me off completely.”The unwillingness to fully research and prepare applications for grants was described as “lazy” by another student, who asked not to be named.“We are so privileged in Oxford with all the opportunities for travel we are given, and all these hardship grants on offer. It’s just lazy when people think they’re too complicated to find out about or apply for,” he said.Other students, though, praised the way the university advertised the funding available. “All our grants are widely publicised,” said the St John’s student.The student also admitted that she and other students received grants they did not need. “My parents own a company abroad,” she said, but explained that only their UK income was entered into consideration for the Oxford opportunity bursary. “This means that I get the get the full government loan, the full government grant and the bursary from Oxford [worth £3,145 a year].”“In lower-sixth I went to a boarding school,” she added. “There’s also a Hilary Book Grant which gives St John’s students up to £292 pounds if they present the receipts for books they’ve bought. Everybody knows about it.”She said that it was important such grants were available and widely advertised as it meant Oxford students, who are not allowed to work in term-time, could get some extra money. “We’re not allowed to work so we have to supplement [our income] somehow,” she said.Another of the respondents to the survey said they were grateful for the grants available but claimed they were badly advertised. “I know a lot of people who would not be able to travel if they couldn’t get these grants,” they said. “But they need to be openly advertised.”last_img read more