Do foreign students have it harder than English students?

By James Cannell

De Montfort University (DMU) is full of people from all walks of life but not all can get the financial support they need with many finding themselves short on cash.

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Empty wallets: A truly hard way to live

Dominika Hagemajer, an English Language with Spanish student, and her best friend Natalia Walawko, also studying English Language but with Mandarin, are both from Poland and studying at DMU.

Dominika said: “Luckily I have work right now and it will help pay for my studies for next year. But I am not earning a lot so I am going to have to stay here for the whole summer.”

Unfortunately, this is normal for many students, with a lot of them having to work in order to support themselves. Natalia explained: “I have to work a lot, I work for around 40- 50 hours a week.”

It wasn’t always like this. Foreign students used to be able to apply for a maintenance grant similar to the one English students could. However, Student Finance changed this back in July 2015.

Since then students can only apply for a maintenance loan, which needs to be paid back in full and can only be applied for if you have lived in the UK for at least three years.

Natalia suggested: “They used to give a loan to foreign students, I don’t think we should necessarily get as high as the loans for English people, but we need it just as much as they do.”

Many foreign students are still allowed the chance of getting specialist grants which will help them out. However deadlines are tight and prerequisites are very specific.

Unfortunately for Dominika, she missed her window of opportunity by 20 days and so she has been left to fend for herself. Dominika said: “Now, after I paid for my accommodation, I don’t have any money for food, for laundry, for my phone or for bills. I just find it kind of unfair.”

If you are struggling with finances you can visit: http://www.gov.uk/student-finance/extra-help. Or visit DMU’s own student finance at: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/current-students/student-support/student-finance/index.aspx.

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