Fee-paying international students find themselves under financial strain because of the pandemic. Lund University has launched a “hardship scholarship” to support them, but only 12 percent applied and even fewer received financial support.
Many international fee-paying students are in unforeseen financial circumstances due to the ongoing pandemic. As a result, Lund University (LU) has created a hardship scholarship for students in these situations, for which January 3 was the last day to apply. According to Tullia Mednickson, Financial Aid Officer at LU, 136 (or around 12 percent of all fee paying) students have done so.
“We realised that many of our students suffered hardship after the pandemic and many of them weren’t able to finish their studies at the university without our help”, said Tullia Mednickson.
This scholarship only deducts a certain amount from a student’s tuition fees, which means recipients simply had a discounted fee—it does not apply to living nor maintenance costs.
However, LU was surprised at the lack of interest in this scholarship: “We thought we would get many more applications”. Tullia Mednickson thinks one reason might be because “the application opened late in the year”. Defending the University’s approach, she says that “we acted as fast as we could”.
Only 36 percent of the applicants actually received the scholarship, a low number at first glance. However, Tullia Mednickson says it is because most people who applied were not eligible. “One of the main criteria was that this hardship started after their studies [had begun]”. Rejected students were often already suffering from financial hardship before their studies, according to Tullia Mednickson, making them ineligible for the hardship scholarship.
The amount students received depended on the tuition fee. There are five brackets in the scholarship (0 SEK to 10 000, 20 000, 35 000 and 50 000). Most applicants received the SEK 50 000 scholarship, as the tuition fees range from SEK 100 000 to SEK 210 000 per year in most cases, except the Fine Arts Master Programme which is SEK 400 000 per year.
”It was a great burden for me ” says 23 year old Flaka Isufi from Kosovo, an international master student in speech therapy at the Faculty of Medicine. The rapid spread of Covid-19 in Kosovo has had a significant impact on the country’s economy, adversely affecting her family’s finances and their ability to finance her studies.
Arriving in August, the pandemic was well under way. However, she only started to feel the financial consequences of it after her arrival. Flaka Isufi held a role as a remotely practicing speech therapist from Sweden, but this was put on hold because of the pandemic. Some of her family members became infected, resulting in mounting medical bills. ”It’s especially hard for students from low income countries” she says.
Out of her tuition fee of SEK 280 000 (approximately EUR 28 000), the hardship scholarship will provide EUR 5 000. ”It’s a huge help for me, it’s a motivation to continue my studies here”.
”I would like to express my gratitude to External Relations for this scholarship, and maybe other universities can follow the same example”, says Flaka Isufi.