The Department of Education in Northern Ireland has reinstated the right of mature students to claim an Older Students Allowance worth up to Pounds 1,070 a year.
The DENI originally abolished the allowance from the beginning of this session for newly enrolled students aged over 26, but the enabling legislation to allow the change was ratified only last month. Following pressure from the National Union of Students and Union of Students in Ireland, DENI announced that the allowance will be axed next session, but students already in the system will be able to apply for it throughout their courses.
Peter O'Neill, manager of NUS/USI student centre, said: "Although this climbdown results from an administrative mistake, it will help relieve the financial burden on this disadvantaged section of our membership." The union wants the allowance to be increased in line with inflation, and is seeking legal advice on extending the decision to include repaying an 8 per cent cut in mandatory awards which was implemented last year.