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Higher Education Sector Update

What's the government's said, what we think and what will we do...

What has the UK Government said?

The UK Government announced this week a series of measures to support higher education in the pandemic, but it's a mixed bag! You can read the full update here, and we’ve highlighted some of the main points affecting our RCA community below:  

  • The government has clarified that providers can use existing funds to boost their hardship funds by £46m for students in financial difficulty, but no new money has been announced for supporting students.

  • The government is bringing forward £100m of quality-related (QR) research funding for providers in England into this current academic year.

  • The government will convene a group to consider how its international student strategy is affected by the pandemic.

  • (The government will apply temporary student number controls, and bring forward student loan tuition fee payments, however this is only relevant for Undergraduate students.)

What is our response to it? 

While it is encouraging that the package notes international student support and allows higher education providers to move money into hardship funding; it is concerning that this is coming from pots of money already in use, and no extra money has been offered. 

It is also disappointing that the government has not tackled urgent questions of tuition fee write-offs and reimbursement. 

… and what on earth can we do about all this? 

  • RCASU is working with the National Union of Students (NUS) to lobby the government to provide fee reimbursement, hardship funding, an education leavers support package, and an opportunity to retake the year at no extra cost. You can read more about the Student Safety Net Campaign here

  • We are also in dialogue with Art & Design Universities in London and across the UK about how we can work together to address specific issues affecting Art & Design institutions, such as lack of access to studios and facilities, and the Degree Show. 


  • We are in regular contact with the RCA senior management, and continue to run our rep meetings with students and the Vice Chancellor Office this term.

  • We are supporting students with the complaints process; you can read more info here

Most importantly we need to keep on talking, working together, and supporting one another. Please drop us an email at we would love to hear from you.