Written by: Fawziyyah Ahmed, VP Wellbeing and Diversity with the Student Voice Team
We were pleased that our students and Sabbatical team had the opportunity to be involved in discussions with our local MP, Luke Pollard around lobbying the University of Plymouth and local accommodation providers in regard to the treatment of university students throughout the pandemic. The conversation covered; tuition fees, safety nets, rent/accommodation issues and work opportunities for students whilst studying to support themselves.
Luke shared many of our concerns and urged students who are in real financial difficulty to get in touch if this is due to the lack of jobs, problems accessing the furlough scheme or still being required to pay for accommodation where, in many cases, tenants have no access. On Wednesday 3rd March, his office pulled together a special Zoom meeting for students and student representatives from across Plymouth to join and share their local experiences which will be fed back to the Government.
Read Luke Pollard's update here:
Your Student President, KC, followed up this meeting with an email to our local MP with an overview of the vital discussion that was had during the Zoom meeting:
“Dear Luke Pollard,
I firstly want to say a big thank you for taking out time out of your highly busy schedule to get together with students over Zoom, on the 3rd of February to listen to their challenges, as a result of the current situation of things in the country, and in the world at large. We the sabbatical team initially wrote to you on the issue of students still having to pay rent at their university accommodations whilst away from it due to lockdown, but following that meeting I hope we would agree that students are facing a whole lot more than rent challenges as we heard various pressing issues from them, ranging from; the need for more mental health support, safety net, tuition fee reduction, financial support, more support for students with disabilities and more.
In gratitude and patience, the students are looking forward to seeing actions being taken to solve these challenges, in order to give them something close to a bearable student experience in these difficult times, as we trust you would also be ensuring that the plights of the students are being addressed. I look forward to hearing from you and speaking soon.
Chukwudi Ezenyi (KC)
Students' Union President”
And our MP swiftly got back to him to express his gratitude:
Thank you for joining us at the Zoom meeting. I really appreciated hearing the first-hand experiences of students, which helped inform my letter to the government on this matter.
There is a post on my website here that has a copy of the letter which has been sent to Gavin Williamson MP and I hope to have a response soon.
I will continue monitoring this situation closely and listening to the experiences of Plymouth students.
Thanks and keep safe and well,
Luke Pollard MP
Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport"
Many of the students present were thankful for the opportunity to share their concerns about how this global pandemic has affected their studies whilst also explaining how they feel they could be better supported by the Government and the University alike.
We're pleased that students could attend a meeting as vital as this and share their gratitude to the present MPs as our students appreciated that someone with the ability to influence Government was actually listening to their concerns.
Luke Pollard is the elected MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport which covers the University and a large proportion of student accommodation.
If you would like to contact Luke Pollard
Tel: 01752 717255
Johnny Mercer is the elected MP for Plymouth Moorview which covers areas north of the City.
If you would like to contact Johnny Mercer
Tel: 01752 876979
Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about your MP and what they have been doing on your behalf