Today we’re launching a Government petition which aims to change the way the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) classify intermitting students, who are currently still classed as full-time students and as such cannot claim many financial benefits that make taking a year out possible.
Since Michaelmas, we’ve been running twice-termly intermission socials for students who are currently intermitting and have intermitted before. These have been great events in terms of giving students a place to discuss their experiences, but also in informing how we work as a union to improve the intermissions process.
A common thing that we hear from students is that even when intermitting was the right thing to do for their health; they experienced huge amounts stress in trying to figure out how they would support themselves financially during intermission, especially if they were unable to work.
Aside from the Students’ Unions’ Advice Service, many support services are no longer open to students when they intermit, and grants and funding from Colleges and the University have been few and far between. A new hardship fund has recently opened up that intermitting students can apply for via their senior tutors, and which can be used to consolidate other grants the student may be receiving.
However, this fund only exists due to wages docked from staff UCU members who went on strike during Lent, and so while it is great that there is more financial aid available to students it is also evidence of how there is a large gap in funding for intermitting students.
Cambridge is not the only university where it is common for students to intermit, and we’re aware that this is a problem facing students nationally. For this campaign to be effective we really want to kickstart a national conversation about the stresses put on our students, and how irresponsible it is for the Government and multi-billion pound universities to not extend their duty of care to students who have temporarily left their institutions, but for whom these institutions may be their only form of support.
We need your support to make this crucial change happen.