Daily Express

Potential of a generation ‘may be lost’

- By Steph Spyro

MPs have slammed the Government for “avoiding responsibi­lity” and “abandoning” students during the pandemic.

Paul Blomfield, who leads an all-party parliament­ary group inquiry into student support, demanded urgent financial help.

He said: “Covid has not only disrupted students’ education, but taken away vital income from part-time jobs.

“Students have not had the financial support available to others but will pay back the national debt from the pandemic throughout their working lives.

“We must give them financial help now and fund the extra provision they’ll need to make up for lost learning.” Education select committee chairman Robert Halfon said those not receiving a “top-quality blended learning experience” should get a refund or reduced fees next year.

Two out of three university students in England say they had no face-to-face teaching during November, according to an Office for National Statistics survey.

Lib Dem education spokeswoma­n Daisy Cooper said they were being “absolutely shafted by the Government’s failure to step in and sort out a fair deal”.

She added: “The Government can’t keep avoiding responsibi­lity for this.” Green

Party MP Caroline Lucas said students had been “effectivel­y abandoned” by the Government during the crisis.

She added: “The Government needs to take responsibi­lity, provide emergency hardship funds alongside compensati­on, properly finance higher education going forward...and make sure the talent and potential of the current generation of students isn’t lost entirely.”

Universiti­es minister Michelle Donelan said an extra £20million had been provided on top £256million already available to help those most in need. Further financial support for students struggling to cover costs would be announced soon.

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