"Students Deserve Better" - Our message to our local MP
please find below the email I sent on 12th January 2021 to our local MP Clive Lewis.
Dear Clive Lewis,
I'm writing to you to address my increasing concern for students during this new Lockdown, and generally under the current Government during this Pandemic. I am incredibly concerned about mental health, some students are doing this Lockdown by themselves in Halls, others in extremely toxic environments, and many of them are on waiting lists for counselling, which is taking weeks and weeks to get an appointment.
Students are also suffering financially by having to pay for accommodation which they cannot use, as they are being told to stay at home. (Which is a message we will always wholeheartedly support), but why should they have to pay for a space they cannot use? Part of NUA's Student Accommodation is owned by NUA, which is easier for the Students' Union to lobby the University to refund, however the rest is purpose-build-private-rented, which changes things as students' money is going into a Private company, and is less likely to be refunded as NUA have zero control over their business.
I have been in Conversation with our University, however it feels as if there is only so much that can be done internally, as I really feel that the problem is stemming from a lack of due care and attention of Universities and our students from the Prime Minster. Our students deserve better, and we need to fight for it for them.
To give you some insight into the main ways learning has been affected during this pandemic, is that students cannot access the facilities that they are paying for in order to complete their degree and create work which they will later need to show to employers in order to get a job after graduation. Online learning is good, however an Arts University cannot be done online. Acting students cannot meet to rehearse their work, our Fine Artists require studio space in order to generate ideas and make art, Games, VFX and Animation students cannot afford to pay for the software or equipment, as the course needs require them to have lots of storage and high end equipment. Fashion students have been left without access to a sewing machine, and are expected to still do their degree... The list goes on. I am working with the University in this ever-changing environment to ensure students' grades aren't effected due to the world around us. However I find it outrageous and disappointing that the Government are still requiring students to pay £9,250 for resources they don't have access to, especially with a lack of due care and attention for Universities when advice changes constantly. I think if they could see how stressful, challenging and dire it is to be a student right now, they would never want their children to go through the same hardship.
Our students are fantastic, they are working so hard despite the dire circumstances, many of them worked throughout this pandemic just to make ends meet. Their mental health is deteriorating, they are in financial difficulty and it feels like no one is listening.
I would really appreciate it if we could arrange a meeting to chat, I know you must be incredibly busy with the community during such a challenging situation, but it would mean the world if someone could listen to the voice of students, and if someone can give them the voice that they deserve.
I hope that during these crazy times, you are doing well and looking after yourself.
Thank you for listening and for making it to the end of this email.