OFS Covid-19 Hardship Fund: Our Top Tips for a Successful Application
Did you know? All UK Universities, including UCLan, have been allocated further funding by the Office for Students (OfS) to support students who have suffered significant financial hardship as a direct result of the latest restrictions imposed to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In December 2020, we released our Financial Hardship Survey. Out of 1,084 students who responded, 29% did not receive financial support from family. The pandemic exacerbated many of the financial pressures both Home and International students face, with many losing part-time jobs or struggling to find suitable opportunities to subsidise their living and studying costs.
Who is the OfS Covid-19 Hardship fund for?
The Hardship Fund is for students who have been significantly financially impacted by Covid-19.
Please note: The Fund is limited, and not all applicants are guaranteed to receive financial support. All applications will be scored and compared against the guidance set out by the OfS and the University to ensure that students most in need of support get priority.
Students not currently residing in the UK will not be eligible for this award.
If you are an international student in your first year of study you are unlikely to be considered for the Hardship Fund as you are required to prove that you have enough money for your tuition fees and living costs as part of the Student Route/Tier 4 visa.
UCLan Partnership students are eligible to apply to this fund.
What does the fund cover?
There are 3 areas that each application will be assessed on:
1. Students who are paying additional rent or board costs elsewhere who have been unable to leave a private rental contract and have not been offered a discount or compensation on their term time rent for a dwelling where they are now unable to live due to Covid-19. (Please note that students living in University Accommodation or with any other provider who is known to have already compensated students in this position will not be considered for support in this category).
Overseas students who planned to leave the UK over the summer period to go home and who are now unable to leave the UK due to their home country being on the ‘red list’ and have additional unplanned accommodation costs as a result of this.
- If you received an award from the previous OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund for additional accommodation costs linked to the Covid-19 Pandemic, you may be eligible for a further award if your circumstances have continued and are beyond your control. You will need to complete a new application and provide new evidence.
2. For students that have insufficient IT equipment to allow them to study remotely. For example, students whose device has broken this academic year or who have not had access to sufficient equipment.
- If you have already received financial support for equipment, you will not be considered for support in this category.
- If your existing equipment has broken, or you have been unable to get access to equipment, you must have made the University aware of these circumstances beforehand. If you have not disclosed this to the University, you will not be considered for support in this category.
- If you are in your first year of study, you will only be considered for this category if your equipment has broken since the start of your course.
- If you are due to complete your course in 2021/22 you will not be considered for support in this category.
3. For students whose household income has been significantly impacted by Covid-19. For example, if you have been furloughed, are not eligible for furlough or if you have lost a job and still have no work since the closure of the last OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund on 16.02.2021.
- If you received an award from the previous OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund because your household income was impacted as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic, you may be eligible for a further award if your circumstances have continued and are beyond your control. You will need to complete a new application and provide new evidence.
How do I apply?
Complete the OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund Application Form here.
Our top 10 tips when applying for a Hardship Fund:
1. Remember, your application form cannot be amended once submitted. If you get part way through the application and need to stop to gather evidence or ask a question, simply save your application. Do NOT submit, as you will not be permitted to add to your application later. Only submit when you have provided ALL requested information and evidence.
2. If you are unable to upload evidence to CareerEdge, please email all requested evidence to CovidFund@uclan.ac.uk immediately after submitting your application and detail in the ‘personal statement’ section of the application that you will be sending your evidence via email. Make sure you send your evidence within 1 hour of submitting your application or your application may be rejected. To speak to a member of staff to discuss your evidence requirements prior to submitting the application, please email CovidFund@uclan.ac.uk (this email address is specifically for students who are struggling with the application process and will not be able to answer questions about the outcome of an application or provide explanations for rejected applications).
3. Make sure you are completely honest in your application. The University reserves the right to recover any funds awarded if the information provided as part of your application is proven to be false in nature.
4. Make sure you complete ALL questions in the application form, providing as much information as possible about your circumstances in the Personal Statement section to ensure the University has all of the information required to assess your need for support.
5. It is mandatory to supply evidence where requested on the application form. Any applications submitted without the requested information and evidence will be automatically rejected.
6. All the evidence you provide must be from an official source. Screenshots of text messages or emails where it is not clear who has provided the information and what your relationship is with this person will not be accepted.
7. Make sure you complete the form in time. Applications for the fund are now open and will close at 4pm on Wednesday 30th June 2021. Read more here.
8. If you are an International Student, make sure you check out the Overseas Hardship Fund too!
9. If you have a disability or long term condition that makes it difficult for you to complete the application form, please contact the Inclusive Support team on 01772 892593 or at InclusiveSupport@uclan.ac.uk.
10. Remember, not all applicants will receive financial support. Applications will be scored and compared to ensure that those most in need of support get priority, so make sure that you supply as much information about your circumstances as possible!
How will I find out the outcome?
The decision of the panel responsible for assessing applications is final and the University will not be able to provide any individual responses about the outcome of any application.
Each applicant will receive an email from the University before 31st July 2021 to make them aware of the outcome of their application.
UCLan’s International Student Hardship Fund
In February, UCLan Students’ Union President Zuleikha Chikh compiled a report based on her campaign ‘The Cost of COVID’- which recommended UCLan’s Senior Leadership Team to allow International students to access the Financial Hardship Fund.
International students can now apply for the Overseas Student Hardship Fund which will support students who have experienced an unexpected financial emergency. International students will be asked to provide supporting evidence as proof of circumstances and must apply for support no more than 4 weeks after they are made aware that they will incur the cost.
“We are pleased to see UCLan have understood how international students are facing a complex range of issues as a result of the pandemic and have been willing to listen and act on the concerns of Elected Officers.”
Remember, if you are an international student in your first year of study you are unlikely to be considered for the Hardship Fund as you are required to prove that you have enough money for your tuition fees and living costs as part of the Student Route/Tier 4 visa.
What other support is available?
If you are struggling with your wellbeing, please refer yourself to the Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing teams for support.
UCLan?has teamed up with Blackbullion to offer all of our students the opportunity to learn more about their finances and to improve their financial capability free of charge via an online learning platform. Sign up for free with your UCLan email address.
For guidance and information about the support available externally visit the Gov.UK website.
For independent advice and guidance about academic issues, advice for any welfare benefits, housing, finance or debt, or employment issues, please contact the UCLan Students Union Advice and Representation Centre.
To see all the financial support UCLan has to offer, please click here.