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Spring statement: union calls for free sanitary products initiative to be extended to universities

13 March 2019

UCU has welcomed the government's plan to provide free sanitary products in schools and colleges from September. The union said it now wanted to see the scheme rolled out in universities, as is the case in Scotland.

A 2017 survey found that one in 10 young women aged 14-21 had been unable to afford sanitary products. It also discovered that 12% of those surveyed had to improvise sanitary wear and one in five had changed to a less suitable sanitary product due to cost.

Last week the union's Newcastle College branch celebrated the news that the college said it will be providing free sanitary products for students at all its campuses from the start of the summer term.

The UCU branch had originally started its own drive to end period poverty at the college in October. Union members brought in sanitary products to be handed out by student mentors and encouraged staff to donate products to support the campaign.

UCU acting general secretary, Paul Cottrell, said: 'Having a period should not be a barrier to education and we welcome the chancellor's promise to provide free sanitary products in schools and colleges. He should now take that extra step and provide them for university students too, as in Scotland.

'Ensuring that sanitary products are available to all students will enable women and girls facing real hardship to be able to attend their classes in comfort and dignity.'

Last updated: 15 March 2019