Fees concession gets lukewarm response

September 25, 1998

Student leaders this week gave a lukewarm response to the government's decision to waive tuition fees for thousands of part-time students on benefits.

The National Union of Students said that the Pounds 5 million diverted from the overall higher education budget was a drop in the ocean in terms of the money required for all students and for part-timers in particular.

National Union of Students president Andrew Pakes said: "We welcome the extra cash but do not think it is goes far enough in meeting the needs of part-time students. Instead of the drip, drip approach to student funding we need more of a gush."

The Pounds 5 million was announced by higher education minister Baroness Blackstone at last week's Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals meeting in Manchester.

The cash will mean that people on benefits who are accepted on to part-time courses will pay no fees in 1999-2000.

The Department for Education and Employment said that the money was part of the Pounds 280 million extra funding already announced for 1999-2000.

The government expects an extra 20,000 part-time students in higher education next year. Baroness Blackstone said that more part-time provision was required to encourage mature students and those without traditional entry qualifications into higher education.

The government has already waived tuition fees for part-time students who lose their jobs after the start of their courses.

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