SMU sets up $2.5m Covid-19 fund for students

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 yesterday announced an SMU Resilience Fund to help students in need because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Funds come from SMU's own resources and contributions from the SMU community and donors.

Other universities 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 Covid-19 will get help from a new Undergraduate Supplementary Assistance Plan. Up to 1,000 undergraduates can receive a one-off $500 grant each, which does not need to be repaid.

SMU last month also set up a Global Exposure Contingency Fund to defray 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 a 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 in touch with employers to facilitate permanent and contract employment, and is reaching out to SMU alumni to offer fresh graduates traineeships and jobs.

In a statement, SMU president Lily Kong said some students have family members whose livelihoods have been affected, while some others 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."

More help is also on the way. SMU Law Academy - its continuing legal education arm - has 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 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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2020, with the headline 'SMU sets up $2.5m Covid-19 fund for students'. Subscribe