Student Poverty: A Short Practical Guide for University Lecturers

This guide is designed to provide a short explanation of what you can do as a lecturer to design your curriculum around increasing student hardship, and to provide a small number of resources and a bit of advice for you and your students.

education
poverty
economics
higher education
money
  1. Home
  2. Google Doc
  3. Student Poverty: A Short Practical Guide for University Lecturers

Student Poverty: A Short Practical Guide for University Lecturers

This guide is designed to provide a short explanation of what you can do as a lecturer to design your curriculum around increasing student hardship, and to provide a small number of resources and a bit of advice for you and your students.

education, poverty, economics, higher education, money

Student Poverty: A Short Practical Guide for University Lecturers

Version 1.0 Autumn 2022

SLC Maintenance loan figures 2022-23 2

The Guide: Your Students Are Going to Face Financial Hardship This Academic Year 4

You can: 4

Adapt your own working practices 4

Adapt your module layouts and requirements 5

Consider how you interact with students 6

Plan Your Classes with Poverty in Mind 6

Advocate internally: Things your University should do 7

Resources and Services You Can Provide to Students 9

External Rented Accommodation 9

Loans and Maintenance 9

Part-time work and part-time study 10

Note on the guide, sources, and compilation:

This guide is necessarily partial; it is based in no small part on my experiences working as a full-time History lecturer over the past 9 years, and it is currently UK-specific in its recommendations. Online sources are linked in-text, and contextual background reading featured research commissioned by the NUS and some education-specific reporting from summer 2022. For statistics about student backgrounds upon entering HE, see those compiled by HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency). This guide is suggestive, there is no one weird trick that lecturers can pull to adapt themselves, their classrooms, and their institutions to student poverty. I invited contributions on Twitter and have included some of the suggestions in different forms here. The full thread contains additional helpful suggestions and experiences from students. Interventions suggested here are aimed more at structures and habits than at individual scenarios that might arise when interacting with students.

Compiled by Dave Hitchcock, 08/08/2022

________________

Preamble to this guide:

As of Autumn 2022 the student finance loan will provide the following income to an individual student based on their family household’s income, and limited hardship funds are available. This loan will not keep up with the cost of living, notwithstanding any late UK government intervention. For the poorest decile of student family households, the student would need to live on a 9,706 p/a loan assuming no other income, and that is simply not going to be possible if they rent accommodation. As lecturers we should assume that our students are both studying full-time and working part-time, and that they will need to prioritise taking work shifts more than in previous years.

SLC Maintenance loan figures 2022-23

Household income

Maintenance loan

Not living with parents

Maintenance loan

Living with parents

£0 to £25,000

£9,706

£8,170

£30,000

£9,011

£7,483

£35,000

£8,316

£6,794

£40,000

£7,621

£6,106

£45,000

£6,926

£5,417

£50,000

£6,232

£4,729

£55,000

£5,536

£4,040

£60,000

£4,841

��3,596

£63,000+

£4,523

£4,523

This guide is designed to provide a short explanation of what you can do as a lecturer to design your curriculum around increasing student hardship, and to provide a small number of resources and a bit of advice for you and your students. For students themselves, the number one way to save money during the next few years would be to live at home while they study. This carries significant knock-on consequences for students and for lecturers of course, and for a very large number of students it will not be possible or desirable to do so. The remainder of this guide will assume that students are not living at home, but do design your modules so that “commuting and completing” is as easy as it can be. If you are returning to lecturing in-person, make sure you keep lecture capture videos available anyways.

The context:

We have had to become familiar with increasing student precarity, debt, and financial struggles while studying and not simply after graduation. However, the coming academic year (2022-2023) will coincide with the worst financial context in which to undertake undergraduate study in a very long time. We should start thinking now about how to ameliorate this for our students at all levels, both new and returning. Academics often ask students to treat their studies ‘like a job’ and give over as much of their time as they can do to them. Do not do this. This year, try to work to free up significant space in your programmes, modules, and degrees for students to work actual jobs that pay them money. It is also vitally important that we work to counterbalance the degrading emotional effects of poverty as hard as we work to minimise its material effects. Our classrooms can arguably do more about the former in the short term, but only if those classes are well-designed.

________________

The Guide: Your Students Are Going to Face Financial Hardship This Academic Year

You can:

Adapt your own working practices

Beyond the classroom setting, academics interact with students in numerous other contexts. In some of these you can modify your professional practice to better take student poverty into account. You can also help students ‘behind the scenes’ when interacting with the procedural machinery of your university. Prioritise student financial well-being in the short term, and then student completion of their degree in the medium term, in that order. Some students may need to withdraw from the university for financial or personal reasons, interrupt their studies, or make other moves to protect their personal and financial wellbeing. In every case you must prioritise the student’s wellbeing. Your actions could include: writing in support of student interruptions, informing students about all of their options with respect to their studies before key student financial deadlines in the fall and spring (when the loan payments are ‘made’ to universities and students become liable to the loans company), using individual mitigating circumstances policies pre-emptively for batches of students, and assigning assessments which have “rolling” deadlines where it is functionally impossible to submit late.

1. Office Hours. Make a habit of flexible hours insofar as your schedule permits and ensure you provide students with online slots in addition to in-person slots to allow commuting students to save costs by talking to you remotely. If students need to meet with you outside of scheduled hours, make sure the means by which they can do so is similarly convenient and does not require travel.

2. Personal Academic Tutoring. Most lecturers are not and will never be counsellors or professionally trained to help with the many psychological and emotional effects that poverty and financial hardship can engender. However, you can help enormously by listening to your tutees and by helping them to understand that poverty does affect their studies and that it therefore is included in your remit as their academic tutor. This normalises discussing and dealing with hardship in an academic setting and it means you can talk with tutees about personal strategies they might take, about food bank use (know where your local ones are), and about spaces on campus that will consistently be open, warm, and that will provide access to services in the academic year.

3. Know the system. Student finances, international student visas and conditions (and their accompanying expenses), grants, bursaries, loan interest rates, the DSA (disabled students allowance). It can be a lot to stay on top of, particularly once you include institution-specific information. Try to stay current with these systems so that you know in practice what your students are facing, what structures might exist to support them, and what barriers might have been erected between them and help that they need.

4. Assessment Design and Feedback. Ensure instructions to complete your assessments are located in multiple very easy to find locations, both digitally and in your handbooks. Do not set assessments that might incur student costs, for instance poster presentations where they need to pay for physical materials. When giving feedback, avoid focusing your comments on how ‘more time or effort’ would have improved the assessment, and instead be very specific about what, exactly, the student could have done to improve the grade. Think instrumentally, and give instrumental instructions on how to improve, without ‘writing it for them’.

Adapt your module layouts and requirements

Many university courses run a curriculum that assumes students will work part-time in terms of when classes are scheduled, but neglects to extend consideration to weekly student workloads or to assessment deadline-bunching. Here are five things you can do to your curriculum this fall without going through an extensive and often bureaucratic modification process, and without compromising on your standards for education:

1. Make a very short summary of all important times, places, deadlines, and locations for each module you teach. Post this short summary at the very top of the module website and email a copy to registered students.

2. Make the reading or preparation requirements for every single week of your module about the same in terms of time necessary to complete, and no more.

3. Taper off the reading and preparation requirements for the final three or so weeks of your module. If your module runs across multiple semesters, taper off in both cases.

4. If your module involves any activities, trips, or events that might incur student expenses, consider whether they are necessary this year.

5. If you have more than one assessment, schedule one deadline early in the semester. If possible make this first deadline flexible or rolling.

Consider how you interact with students

As strange as it might sound, try not to ‘lecture’ students about how to do well at university education. As a lecturer you cannot solve your students’ financial situations directly. You can be conscious of the wider context,

Student Poverty: A Short Practical Guide for University Lecturers
Info
Tags Education, Poverty, Economics, Higher education, Money
Type Google Doc
Published 16/09/2022, 08:12:52

Resources

Design Epic Life – The Ultimate Coronavirus Survival Kit
BIPOC-authored Psychology Papers
BIPOC-Authored Social Work Papers
Homeschool Toolbox
Reopening Schools in NJ- Educator Concerns
Artist Resource Links
Teaching Digitally- A FREE Resource Guide for ANY K-12 teacher
High Quality Teaching Strategies for Supporting all Learners (1).pptx