Students entitled to free prescriptions

October 20, 1995

Following the article "Poor students rush for advice" (THES, September 22) our advice centre has been flooded with enquiries and calls from students who wished to know why we had not made them aware that all students were "effectively . . . out of the range of free prescriptions".

I have done the calculations on this according to the regulations and in consultation with a specialist benefits advice agency. The Benefits Agency works out entitlement by assessing a claimant's "requirements". If these are greater than their "resources" they will be entitled to free prescriptions and help with dental costs, glasses etc.

For a single student aged under 25, based on Oxford rents of about Pounds 45 per week, the requirement is Pounds 81.80 per week. For a single student aged 25 or over, the figure is Pounds 91.50 per week.

In both cases grant and loan income (resources) over the academic year would be Pounds 74.30 per week and less during the summer vacation.

In both cases the resources figure is less than the requirement figure. I can see no reason, therefore, why students should not be able to claim full help with NHS prescription charges, dental costs, free sight tests, fares to hospital etc. No doubt someone will help me out if they can spot an error in my calculations.

SUSAN HARBOUR Advice centre manager Oxford Brookes University

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