SMU sets up $2.5 million fund to help students affected by coronavirus outbreak

The Undergraduate Supplementary Assistance Plan aims to help up to 1,000 undergraduates.
The Undergraduate Supplementary Assistance Plan aims to help up to 1,000 undergraduates.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Students from the Singapore Management University (SMU) who are facing financial hardship can find some relief from a new $2.5 million fund.

The university on Monday (May 4) announced that it has set up an SMU Resilience Fund to help students in financial difficulties because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fund comprises funds from SMU's own resources and contributions from the SMU community and donors.

Other universities like the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University have also extended support to their students in similar circumstances.

SMU undergraduates whose gross monthly household per capita income does not exceed $500 and whose family members' livelihoods are affected by the Covid-19 outbreak will get help from a new Undergraduate Supplementary Assistance Plan.

This aims to help up to 1,000 undergraduates with a one-off $500 grant for each student. They will not need to repay the grant.

SMU had in April also set up a Global Exposure Contingency Fund to defray the financial costs of students affected by the cancellation of overseas programmes.

The fund covers irrecoverable expenses associated with air tickets, accommodation, local transport, mobile or data plans and visa or entry fees, as well as alternative accommodation for students serving the stay-home notice in Singapore.

SMU is also raising funds among faculty, staff and alumni to contribute to its Resilience Fund. The SMU Alumni Community Fund has set aside $168,000 since the start of the outbreak to support undergraduates impacted by the pandemic.

The SMU Dato' Kho Hui Meng Career Centre is also actively approaching employers to facilitate permanent and contract employment opportunities, and is reaching out to SMU alumni to offer fresh graduates traineeships and jobs.

In a statement, SMU president Lily Kong said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods, affecting diverse groups in Singapore. We recognise that there are students who are facing financial hardship - some have family members whose livelihoods have been affected, some students themselves may have lost their part-time income.

 
 

"The SMU Resilience Fund illustrates a whole-of-university effort as we stand in solidarity in our response to the pandemic."

She said that many alumni, faculty and staff members have come forward to contribute, and with the collective effort, SMU will be able to help more students to ensure that their education is not derailed or disrupted.

More help is also on the way in the coming months, with other fund-raising initiatives by the university.

SMU Law Academy - its continuing legal education arm - has also started a Covid-19 online seminar series for the legal profession, with net proceeds from the webinar fees going towards supporting law students affected by the pandemic.

 
 
 

The first webinar held on April 30 raised $50,000 from the legal fraternity, and two more webinars are scheduled to take place this month.

Existing emergency grants are also available for undergraduates in need of urgent financial aid. These grants range from $500 to $5,000 each, and are supported by donors.

Affected students can e-mail SMU's Centre for Student Financial Assistance at finasst@smu.edu.sg.