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Department announces further revisions to Student Awards Regulations 16 January 2013

IN Tynwald last night, the Minister for Education and Children announced further changes to the proposals for student awards to address Members’ and families’ concerns.

Therefore, the Minister welcomed the proposal, from the Speaker of the House of Keys, the Hon Steve Rodan, that consideration of the Student Awards Regulations, as presented, should be adjourned until the February sitting of Tynwald.

The Minister then gained the approval of Tynwald to withdraw the regulations to enable a new set of regulations to be brought to Tynwald in February.

The new regulations will still require a universal contribution of £2,500 a year towards the cost of higher education from 2014. A Treasury loan system will support the change and, as previously announced, that loan will not be subject to any parental guarantee, making the student solely liable for it. In addition interest on the loan will only begin to accrue after a student completes his/her studies – even if they continue to postgraduate level.

Last night, the Minister also announced that the Treasury loan of £2,500 will now be available to all students, regardless of their family income. He went on to say that further, means-tested, contributions, on an incremental basis, will only be payable when family income exceeds £100,000 a year with the full means-tested portion of £6,500 only being payable when income exceeds £119,000.

It had previously been proposed that students with a family income exceeding £100,000 wouldn’t be eligible for a loan and it had been planned to ask students to pay more toward courses, incrementally, if their family income was above £80,000.

In summary, these changes now mean that:

• the accrual of interest charges is deferred until graduation

• the requirement for parental loan guarantees has been removed

• the availability of the £2,500 loan is extended to all students, regardless of their parental income and

• the start of means-tested contributions now moves to family incomes of £100,000 or more.

The Minister commented:

‘The Department has genuinely listened to all the concerns that have been raised over recent weeks and has tried to respond in ways that address these but enable us to make the necessary savings. I genuinely believe that what is being proposed is a fair and equitable sharing of the responsibility for tuition fee costs between students and my Department. Around 85% of students will now be able to attend university without any other commitment than a £2,500 universal contribution and all those students will be able to borrow this funding from the Government.’

He went on to say:

‘Although, in an ideal world, I would have liked to have resolved this issue at this sitting of Tynwald, not least to provide certainty for the students themselves, I fully appreciate that Members would prefer to debate this matter when we are able to publish a final version of the Student Awards Regulations and we will be doing that in time for the February sitting. I therefore welcome the intervention by Mr Speaker, which led to this deferral.’

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