Sunderland University pledges best financial support for struggling students

Sunderland University students will see more of increased tuition fees helping poorer scholars than any other in the North East.

Friday, 9th September 2016, 4:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 3:30 pm

The university is joining all others in the North East in increasing tuition fees – but Sunderland is spending the highest amount of income from this on financial support.

The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) this week revealed that the University of Sunderland will spend an estimated 33 per cent of the higher fee income exclusively on financial support for

students in 2017.

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Newcastle and Durham's universities are just behind with 32 and 31 per cent, despite both having more funding available, with Northumbria and Teesside only spending 19 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.

The Government has allowed all North East universities to increase fees to £9,250 after qualifying for the Teaching Excellence Framework, which is awarded if the institution's education meets a high enough standard.

OFFA, the independent public body regulating fair access to higher education in England, has ensured Sunderland will invest enough money to help disadvantaged students through financial support, targeting low participation areas, and working with sixth forms and colleges.

Financial support for the academic year beginning 2017 includes first year travel and accommodation bursaries worth £600, and scholarships for good grades, care leavers and those with low-household incomes, among others.

Lina Dobreva, vice president of education at the University of Sunderland Students’ Union, said: "In the 2017/18 access agreement Sunderland University has clearly worked hard to make education accessible to the widest student population.

"Students at Sunderland have a really broad range of backgrounds and we appreciate all of the maintained financial support, which the university has pledged to make sure that life changing higher education remains accessible to the widest number of people.

"Additionally, the university is increasing funding for students for fee waivers, bursaries and scholarship packages which we support."

All Russel Group and most other universities will be increasing their fees, with only two in the country not charging the maximum of £9,250 - University College Birmingham, and St. Mark and St. John, Plymouth.