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Student Awards Regulations 2006 7 April 2006

Following approval of the Student Awards Regulations by Tynwald the Department of Education can now announce changes with regard to students in higher education who qualify for assistance.

The key point to note is that Manx students will not be required to contribute to UK university tuition fees despite the increased fees, often referred to as top-up fees. From September 2006 UK resident students are to be charged up to £3,000 per year.

As a result of the approval by Tynwald and provision in the 2006/07 Budget the Department can continue its policy to support such students by payment of annual tuition fees. In addition, a means tested maintenance grant continues to be available, subject to the parental or contributor’s income.

Changes to note for 2006 are:

• Residence qualification
To qualify for an award the applicant must have been a resident in the Isle of Man for a period of 3 years prior to the first year of the course and then continue to reside on the island for the duration of the course. In some cases residency discretion can be applied in respect of periods of travel or work experience and national interest.
• Minimum qualifications
The academic criteria is to be raised and will now require the attainment of two A level passes between A and D grades. The previous requirement allowed for students to have two passes between grades A and E.
• Increase in age limit
The Department is introducing tuition fees only support for students between the ages of 40 and 50 years. This support is being made available to encourage greater participation in higher education. However there are restrictions to the support in respect of financial assistance otherwise available from an applicant’s employer and applicants will be required, under the regulations, to provide evidence of a career plan and subsequent economic benefit to the Isle of Man.
• Part time and distance learning courses
Tuition fees only support has been introduced for part-time & distance learning courses, (subject to family income testing). This targeted support could enable students to access higher education on a part-time basis, (where a clear career plan and benefit to the economy are evidenced). This could prove very popular, particularly as a result of the Open University announcement of tuition fee increases in 2007. However the support is NOT intended where the study is by way of a hobby; it is targeted at those people training or re-skilling with a clear career objective in mind.
• Foundation years
The Department will not be providing support for foundation or access years. In some instances a university will offer foundation courses and in doing so extend the course from 3 to 4 years. (This is usually where a student doesn’t meet the university A level criteria for the 3 year course, either through the poor academic performance of the student at A level or not having A levels appropriate to the course).
• Submission dates for applications
The Department has introduced submission dates for initial applications for a student award and this is designed to assist the administrative processes of the Student Awards Section of the Department.
• Duration of awards
The maximum duration of the award will be specified and this will provide clear instructions to the applicant. It has been possible under the previous regulations for students to receive support for the equivalent of two degree level courses. The change in the regulations will make clear the extent of the Department’s support; 4 years full time at undergraduate level and 6 years part time.
• Part time courses
Although there is no maintenance grant payable for part-time courses the Department does offer fees only support. Unemployed students should still retain existing rights to DHSS support, provided they are actively seeking employment whilst studying part-time.
• Means tested maintenance grants
In order to decide the amount of the grant the income of both natural birth parents will be taken into consideration, whether separated or divorced. (exceptions specified)
• Means testing extended to allowances
The disabled students allowance will now be subject to means testing and this will bring the allowance onto the same footing as means tested maintenance grants.
• Income declaration
The Department will now require an income declaration from each contributor (parent/guardian) irrespective of whether a maintenance grant is being applied for. This has been introduced to enable statistics to be complied for future support to be considered and to confirm applicants are resident on the Island and taxpayers.

Each year, approximately 1,100 undergraduate and 120 post graduate students are supported by the Department to further their studies at Higher Education establishments in the United Kingdom, whilst a further 250 are supported on Further & Higher Education courses at the Isle of Man College and International Business School on the Island. The annual budget for Further & Higher Education courses, both in the UK and on Island, is £9.3 million, (£2.2m in maintenance grants and £7.1m in tuition fees)

For further information regarding Student Awards e-mail studentgrants@doe.gov.im or telephone 685790 / 685784.

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