The year 2020 was shaped like no other by the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19. The pandemic has had a shattering impact on all our communities, and Essex students have been no different. Essex is now home to over 15,000 students, with 30% coming from households with an income of less than £25,000 per year, making the financial impact of COVID-19 even more difficult to overcome.

Our Hardship Fund has always been a place for students to turn to, when faced with urgent, unexpected financial needs. When the pandemic hit the UK and the subsequent financial difficulties began to unfold, the fund was inundated with applicants; more students asked for help in six months than in the last five years combined. It was clear that our students needed our support more than ever, and this is why we launched our Hardship Fund Appeal in April.

The response we have received from the appeal has been, to use the well-worn word of 2020, unprecedented. We put out the call, and you answered emphatically. Over 650 alumni, staff and friends from across the world, not to mention a significant contribution from Santander Universities UK, came together to support our students. Together, we reached our initial target of £250,000, enough to grant over 500 bursaries to students hit hardest by the pandemic, students like Charlie*:

“Because of COVID-19, I was going through a financial and emotional crisis where I was unable to concentrate on my studies. I was awarded £500 to support myself to pay my rent, bills and buy food which I am highly glad and thankful for.”
- Charlie*, 2nd year Essex undergraduate and recipient of Hardship Fund grant

*name changed for privacy

Even though we have reached our initial target, we are still raising funds to support students through these difficult times.  If you have not yet had the chance to, or you feel able to make a further gift, you can do so on our Hardship Fund webpage.

On behalf of the University, we would like to say a heartfelt thank you. There hasn’t been a prouder time to work with a community as supportive as we have here at Essex. Together, with our fighting Essex spirit, we will come through this pandemic stronger, and Essex will continue to produce graduates that go on to change our world.