Applications for university hardship grants across the country are soaring as the nation prepares to go into lockdown.

Student associations have reported a major spike in funding applications for things like travel and technology to help students get through the pandemic.

Lincon University Student's Association had received more hardship grant requests than they did following the mosque attack.

The Government announced on Monday that the country would progress to alert level 4 on Wednesday, and with many students living in different cities to their family, it's been a race against the clock just to get home.

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Lincoln University Student's Association president Sam Blackmore said the pandemic had accentuated existing inequality within tertiary education.

He said people come to university from a range of backgrounds but some students don't have strong family or financial support which can make things difficult in these challenging times.

"We are seeing a massive increase [in hardship grant requests], specially around access to devices, because they won't have access to the university and they have to use home devices which may not be up to scratch.

He said a lot of people applied for hardship grants following the mosque attack, but that was one specific group of students- this was everyone.

Another key issue for Blackmore was accommodation.

"A couple of them didn't have laptops to be able to do their work at home, but there were also some students who didn't know whether they should stay at their flat and be away from their supports or go home and have poor internet for their work."

Blackmore told the Herald there was a lot of anxiety and uncertainty around campus and students were just "stressed out".

University of Canterbury Student's Association president Tori McNoe said Canterbury students were also doing it tough.

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She said they had travel grant requests following the announcements, which they don't normally give hardship grants for.

"Last year we had quite a few as well with March 15 and then also with the earthquakes, but it's certainly higher than we thought we would experience around this time of year."

McNoe said some students were nervous about the lockdown, but they taking steps like moving their bar quiz night online to facilitate social interactions.

"This is the most important time for everyone to look after each other and look after themselves because this is unprecedented times."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website