Poor part-timers to get study grant

September 24, 1999

Universities will soon be able to offer poorer part-time students maintenance grants, Tessa Blackstone, the higher education minister, announced at last week's meeting of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals.

The move is part of a package to raise numbers of mature students, who mostly study part-time, but until now have not been eligible for maintenance aid.

The Department for Education and Employment has added a further Pounds 12 million to access funds, bringing the total to Pounds 75 million for this academic year. Universities can spend up to 10 per cent of the access money on bursaries.

"Bursaries provide an incentive to enter higher education because they provide an assurance of financial support before the course starts," said Baroness Blackstone.

The DFEE will be issuing guidance to universities to target mature students with the funds.

Last September the government announced that tuition fees would be waived for part-time students on benefits. Baroness Blackstone also said that part-time students on low incomes would be eligible for loans from next year.

"We hope to be able to provide additional funds for new access measures in 2000 to 2001. We will be exploring ways of targeting this money on mature students, full-time and part-time, with particular needs such as lone parents and those with dependants," she said.

Students who have to suspend their studies to care for a relative will be able to claim the Job Seekers' Allowance during the period between the end of their caring responsibilities and the start of the next academic year. Until now, those intending to return to study were not entitled to the benefit. The DFEE estimates that up to 9,000 students stand to benefit from this entitlement.

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