Student funding suspended following budget problems

The government has suspended all funding for overseas EU students at private colleges, and for Bulgarians and Romanians at public universities.

November 29, 2013

The move, revealed today in an email to institutions, will add to worries that an overspend on private providers has caused a major budget crisis at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Universities with direct public funding will also be concerned that they are now being directly impacted by a problem that began in private colleges.

Some in the private sector immediately raised questions about whether the move could be judged as discriminatory to affected students under EU law.

Today’s email from the Student Loans Company says: “We are writing to advise you that Student Finance England (SFE) have taken the decision, in consultation with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), to suspend all elements of funding to EU students at alternative providers and all A2 nationals (e.g. students from Bulgaria and Romania) at a public institution for 13-14 payments.”

BIS has since clarified that the funding suspensions do not affect students claiming fee loans only.

The funding suspension for EU students does not apply to those from the UK.

Today’s move suspends tuition fee loans for 2013-14 for the relevant groups of students, as well as maintenance loans and grants, subject to students supplying additional information about whether or not they are eligible for funding.

The suspensions will apply for all students in the relevant categories, even if they are already studying in the UK and no matter what stage of their degree they are at.

A BIS spokesman confirmed: “All EU students at alternative providers have had payment suspended until they provide the additional information outlined in the letter.

“All Romanian and Bulgarian at all institutions (APs and universities) have had payments suspended until they provide the additional information.”

Students would receive funding “as long as they supply that additional information”, he said.

Asked how many students were affected, the BIS spokesman said: “We do not have full numbers at the moment, data is still be compiled.”

The SLC email says student support regulations “state that a student must have been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom throughout the three-year period preceding the first day of the first academic year of the course to be eligible to receive a maintenance loan or grant”.

It adds: “We have contacted all students concerned and have asked for further evidence of their eligibility to receive maintenance loans or grants.”

The move follows a written ministerial statement on student support last week by David Willetts, the universities and science minister.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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Reader's comments (2)

This article misleads as tuition fee loans are not subject to the 3 year residency rule - it's only maintenance loans and grants that have been suspended. However, it is odd that only private providers are targeted - the application and verifcation process for SLC maintenance is the same regardless of provider. Surely if there are concerns about eligibility amongst all EU students at the very diverse group that are private providers, those concerns merit equal investigation in the public sector?
If I wasn't so furious, I would laugh at this because I was never at any point been contacted by student finance. The only thing I've had off them is a letter demanding £1,102 and on top of this they've gone to the effort to withdraw me from my course and terminate my application. They have at no point made an attempt to contact me and ask for further evidence, and in fact haven't emailed me since March. They've completely disregarded the fact that I've been a british citizen since June, and by the looks of it, I probably won't get my loan, grant, and tuition fee payed on time in Jauary, if at all.

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