Letter: Simplify the rules

May 4, 2001

This is a call to the government to simplify the student funding system. I hope it is a call that will be echoed by every student money adviser and sabbatical officer around the country ("Plunged into poverty then pulled back out", THES , April 20).

The introduction of another bursary for mature students with dependants brings more rules and regulations that students must satisfy to be eligible to gain any assistance. While I understand the neediest students should receive priority for funding, the current system is preposterous as it allows so many students to fall through the net and it leads others to believe they have no right to claim any assistance whatsoever.

The funding guides recently published by the Department for Education and Employment are already out of date and give incoming students the wrong advice about what they are entitled to as they arrive at institutions in September. Many institutions are likely to spend money that could be better used to increase the financial assistance students receive on training staff to ensure the intricacies of the student funding system are understood.

This does not even take into account the benefits agency, which has its own set of ludicrous rules and regulations that further discriminates against students. There are few people who understand this over-complicated system because of more regulations being added. Even well-trained advisers cannot inform students of their entitlements.

Government ministers and agencies please ensure that this system is open and accessible to all students, even those who attend smaller institutions that lack the resources to maintain all the advice services these new and complicated bursaries require.

Laura Cockram
Liverpool Hope student union

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