Support levels diverge between post-1992s and Russell Group

Students at post-1992 institutions will receive just a quarter of the help offered by older universities

October 23, 2014

Students at some post-1992 universities will receive just a quarter of the financial support offered by older institutions, a new report suggests.

Undergraduates will receive £320 per year, on average, directly from their university if they start at a Million+ university this year, but £1,250 a year at a Russell Group institution, according to a report published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies on 23 October.

For those from families who earn less than £25,000 a year, Million+ students will pick up £720 a year on average, whereas Russell Group students will receive £2,860 a year, according to the report, The rise and demise of the National Scholarship Programme: implications for university students.

Before 2012, all universities had to offer a bursary of at least 10 per cent of the-then £3,375 tuition fee to everyone from a low-income household. This was in addition to their maintenance grants and loans, the IFS says.

However, cuts to the National Scholarship Programme (which will be worth £50 million in 2014-15, after it was cut by £100 million last year) have exacerbated the disparities in student support because newer universities rely more heavily on its funds, the IFS says.

Government funding for the NSP accounts for more than 20 per cent of student support at Million+ institutions in 2014-15, but just 5 per cent of support at Russell Group institutions, it says.

“As the NSP is to be abolished from 2015 onwards, the ability and obligation of less research-intensive universities to provide financial support will be diminished,” the report continues.

Financial support from universities, which averages £635 a year per student, is also increasingly used as a tool to recruit high-achieving students, it adds. Those who enter university this year with A-level results of ABB or equivalent will receive £1,060 per year, almost three times as much as those who do not have these results, the IFS says.

“Financial support will become even more focused on highly qualified entrants who study at research-intensive universities,” once the NSP is ended for undergraduates, it adds.

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