Letter: Filling hardship gaps

August 10, 2001

I was disappointed to see that Sheffield Hallam was omitted from your list of top ten universities for opportunity bursaries ("Call to help needy students", THES , July ).

At 153, our allocation is joint second highest, largely as a result of achieving above-benchmark records for retention and for entry by students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds.

It is vital that every student who qualifies for a bursary (or just misses the criteria) has the best possible chance not only of entering higher education but of staying the course.

But opportunity bursaries are far from the complete solution, so we have to fill the gap. At Sheffield Hallam next year we will be using our hardship fund to extend bursaries to students who have a personal or family history of government-benefit support but do not meet opportunities criteria.

Those of us working to recruit students from non-traditional backgrounds and to support them sometimes feel as if we are running to stand still. Tony Blair's promised review of finance comes not a moment too soon.

Clive MacDonald
Director of student services
Sheffield Hallam University

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