As you all can imagine, the university experience can pose unique barriers and difficulties for low-income students, who often also are the first of their immediate family to attend university. The past year with the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly worsened disparities and proven to make this all the more apparent. It, therefore, follows that universities should offer adequate financial support to these students to alleviate extra stressors, in turn leveling the playing field with their more privileged peers.
This is essentially why the First Generation Network at KCL has undertaken to push the campaign to improve funding for some of its most vulnerable students. We believe that if the university is able to make the university experience a bit more comfortable for its students, it should most definitely do so.
The practical benefits of adequate financial support for low-income students might include not having to pick up part-time jobs for maintenance, rather, working only for experience and not out of necessity. This naturally allows for greater focus on studies, which is ultimately why we are all here. Financial issues may also weigh heavily on our mental health, and so the university would be further proving its commitment to the mental health of its students by addressing some of the root causes of deterioration.
Financial support also goes a long way symbolically, implying that first-generation and low-income students are valued members of KCL’s community. Importantly, the KCL Living Bursary has not been reviewed in around 10 years. Our needs change over time; London living costs have changed significantly over this time and even over the last 12 months circumstances of our students have changed immensely. A review is therefore long overdue, which we think ought to conclude with greater financial support for some of KCL’s most disadvantaged students.
This is where you come in! We want to hear from you and your experience, enabling you to have a say in what affects a considerable part of your university life. What would you change about the bursary? Has your experience with the bursary been positive? Negative? Neutral? Have you felt financially supported by the university in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Your stories and testimonies are of undeniable value to demonstrate the lived experiences of actual students receiving the bursary. Share this with us! Your voice counts.