Swansea’s food bank for students

Swansea Metropolitan University’s student union has been running a food bank since April so its own students can get enough to eat.

Student Union sabbatical officer Michael Twitchen, who launched the scheme, says: “Students have come to see me about their finances for all kinds of reasons. Our aim is that no student should sacrifice food for education.

“Many students have to choose between paying bills, getting the rent in on time, buying books, and buying food. Food and healthy diets are often put last on the list of purchases.”

The Welsh Assembly provides a small, inadequate living grant for full-time undergraduates but many Swansea Met students are part-time, mature students living off campus and with families.

The scheme is the first in UK universities, but food banks for students are already commonplace in the USA and Canada.

The day before this news broke, university vice-chancellors announced they want students to start paying back undergraduates’ loans when their income is only £18,000 a year, far below the UK average.

With recent graduates only barely scraping by if they get a job, adding an additional £75 to their monthly bills could dissuade thousands from higher education.

Underemployment is now epidemic and many students wouldn’t even make use of their degree in their first job after graduating.

Society produces enough wealth to eliminate tuition fees and provide every student, full-time or part-time, with a maintenance grant, as was done before Thatcher.

We need a mass movement of workers, students and the unemployed to build a democratic, socialist education system: free at the point of use and accessible to all.

Ed Schluessel