The Welsh Labour Government has revealed to universities this week that it is scrapping the Financial Contingency Fund for higher education students.
This fund gave support to over 5,000 university students last year, with over £2million being handed out to fund books, childcare and disability costs for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Universities are now expected to make alternative arrangements to support students, but have been given less than a month to do so by the Welsh Labour Government before the new academic year begins.
Aled Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Education, slammed the decision. He said:
"Welsh Labour claims that it wants to widen access to higher education for disadvantaged students but this decision does exactly the opposite. To pull this funding now, with just three weeks to go until the start of the new academic year, leaves both students and universities in the lurch at this crucial time.
"Universities have been given very little time to put in place any additional support for these students, many of whom rely on this fund to cover their costs for books, childcare or disability costs. Last year, over five thousand students benefited from the scheme with over £2million being awarded to support them in their studies.
"This decision seems to a sad consequence of the Welsh Labour Government's poor planning and their unsustainable higher education funding policy. The Welsh Labour Government needs to reverse this decision immediately and consult with universities and students before any changes to student support are made."