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CUSP highlights concerns for students studying overseas

The Civil Union of Students and Parents (CUSP) has aired concerns from local students studying abroad about the support they receiving whilst away from their homes and families.

The group has noted concerns in the delay in students receiving their grants, resulting in difficulties in booking flights and accommodation.

“In some cases this has led to students not being able to enrol for courses, or missing the deadline for entry and having to scramble to catch up,” CUSP said.

“For this year, we are aware of the pressure the Department is under, and urge them to continue to process these applications as quickly as possible.”

“We are sure that the Department will be conducting a lessons learned exercise from this year’s experience and look forward to seeing improvements.”

CUSP added they are concerned that students studying overseas, away from their homes and families, and their normal support networks, may struggle.

“This is of particular concern at present given the pandemic,” the group said.

“Many students will attend lectures virtually and may miss out on opportunities to make friends. We would like GoG to consider this and put measures in place to support our students.”

“We recommend that the Department for Education gives guidance to students before they leave Gibraltar.”

“Ideally, they would work with schools to make sure that in the year leading up to study abroad, students are given useful tips and guidance.”

The group asked that the Department for Education checks in with students by email near the start of term to confirm that all is well and for the GHA to set up an email helpline for students overseas, so they can access healthcare and be given advice and pointed in the right direction quickly.

CUSP also called on the Department for Education set out a clear process on their website for students applying for scholarships.

The group added the Department of Education website should include when students can expect to hear from back following a scholarship application.

CUSP said this process should include the date for receipt of Form A (the initial application pre-results), the date for receipt of Form B (the confirmation of offer and final grades), the information needed to support the application at each stage and the format the information should be in (PDF, Word, etc).

“Most importantly, the Department should set out on their website the criteria for allocating scholarships to those applying for non-mandatory support,” CUSP said.

“We would also like the Department to give a time for a full response when sending acknowledgement emails to applicants.”

“It would be helpful for the Department to publish figures on awards given, awards not given, and the total payments to students.”

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