A top university has told hard-up students struggling with the cost of living to keep warm by sitting in the library and other communal areas.
Bristol University and its student union told struggling undergraduates forking out £9,250 per year they can stay in study and social spaces which will offer ‘free tea and coffee’.
The official advice, sent in an email from the university’s pro vice-chancellor for student experience Sarah Purdy, was branded not good enough.
Angry students fumed online about the advice, with one writing on social media: ‘Give us actual help!’
Ms Purdy said: ‘We are acutely aware of the effects of the rising cost-of-living on our community and have been working with Bristol SU to implement a range of measures.
‘If you are struggling with money, or want some advice, please do reach out and speak to someone.
‘We have specialist teams available, and you can discuss your situation in confidence with them.’
She added: ‘Study and social spaces are also available for students to keep warm if they are struggling to heat their homes, including free tea and coffee, as well as microwaves, available in the SU’s social spaces.’
The university’s students union page also advises students they can hang out in the Bristol SU Loft to ‘study and collaborate, or relax and meet friends’.
They are also encouraged to attend any one of the five Bristol SU Living Rooms where they can ‘just “be” and mix with people you otherwise wouldn’t’.
But all six spaces close at 6pm on weekends.
The SU website advises: ‘We have a number of spaces which are available throughout the week and offer you a warm and comfortable place to either relax or study.’
According to the email, other measures include increasing both the Financial Assistance and Digital Support Funds with a ‘simplified and streamlined’ application process.
Funding is usually paid out within 48 hours to those who qualify, the email said.
Other measures include extra ‘affordable’ halls of residence rooms, access to free microwaves, free tea and coffee, free fitness classes and discounted gym memberships for pupils who qualify for a bursary.
Bristol bosses are also ‘looking at how we can make more jobs at the university available to students’.
Ms Purdy’s email in full read: ‘We are acutely aware of the effects of the rising cost-of-living on our community and have been working with Bristol SU to implement a range of measures.
‘To help students who are struggling this year, we have increased the amount we have available in our Financial Assistance Fund from £600,000 to £1million, and our £100,000 Digital Support Fund continues to help students with the cost of IT equipment and connectivity.
‘We’ve simplified and streamlined the way students can get financial support to ensure they get the help they need as quickly as possible, with Financial Assistance Funding normally paid within 48 hours. This has been communicated to students from the start of term and we strongly encourage anyone who is struggling to apply.
‘In addition, the number of affordable rooms available in our residences has increased and we have done a lot of work around making costs more transparent so that students can set clear “caps” on the amount they can afford to pay.
‘Study and social spaces are also available for students to keep warm if they are struggling to heat their homes, including free tea and coffee, as well as microwaves, available in the SU’s social spaces.
‘Other measures include free fitness and activity classes, budget food options in cafes, and discounted sports memberships for students eligible for a bursary.
‘For those looking for part-time employment, we are also increasing the number of jobs available at the University.
‘If you are struggling with money, or want some advice, please do reach out and speak to someone. We have specialist teams available, and you can discuss your situation in confidence with them.’
A spokesperson for the university said: ‘Discussions around how to best support students with the cost of living are continuing and we’ll be announcing further measures in due course.’
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