Reforms may hit part-time numbers, BIS analysis finds

The number of part-time students in England could fall as a result of proposals for university fees and funding, a government document has revealed.

December 3, 2010

The impact assessment released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills shows that civil servants are estimating that only a third of part-time students will be eligible for loans to cover tuition fees under the plans.

However, because of an 80 per cent cut in teaching grants for part-time courses, those unable to draw on fee loans are still likely to face higher fees as universities raise charges across the board.

The document, released quietly on the BIS website earlier this week, states: “We estimate that around two-thirds of part-time students will not be eligible for fee loans.

“At the same time, the withdrawal of teaching grant might mean that fees are increased across the board (including for students not eligible for fee loans). This could have a negative impact on part-time participation overall.”

Part-time students could even see their fees rising at a faster rate compared with their full-time counterparts because many universities do not currently charge a “pro rata” price.

John Denham, Labour shadow business secretary, said the impact assessment demonstrated that it was “simply untrue” to claim that no students would face upfront fees under the government plans.

He also said the government was trying to “disguise and cover up” elements of its policy ahead of the House of Commons vote on 9 December over whether to increase the fee cap to £9,000.

Under current rules, only 10 per cent of part-time students are eligible for government support – although places are subsidised by the teaching grant money that is set to be cut.

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