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New proposals for higher education funding

12 February 2018

New proposals to give students more financial help with university costs have been lodged by the Council of Ministers. A States debate will take place on 10 April.

The means-tested scheme for higher education funding now includes a higher maintenance grant for living expenses and an upper cap of £200,000 on annual household income. The changes to the original plan announced by the Treasury Minister in the 2017 Budget speech are designed to ensure the funding is better targeted and give extra help to lower income families.

The main elements of the Higher Education Funding Proposal are that:

  • the scheme applies to all eligible students with household incomes under £200,000 studying for a first undergraduate degree from September 2018, whether in their first or later years of their course.
  • the maximum standard maintenance grant for living expenses will increase by £1,500 a year, taking it to a maximum of £7,500 per student.
  • tuition fees of up to £9,250 a year for every student living in a household with an annual income under £110,000. (£9,250 is the standard fee for an undergraduate degree in the UK.) Tuition fees charged by on-island degree providers are also eligible.
  • students in households with an income between £110,000 and £200,000 a year will have a percentage of tuition fees paid, based on a sliding scale. Households with income of £200,000 and above will not be eligible for any form of grant.
  • an increase in the qualifying income thresholds so that more families become eligible for the maintenance grant. This will be available in full to all those with household incomes under £50,000, and in part on a sliding scale to families whose income is up to £90,000.

The new scheme includes a built-in review every five years so the level of the grant is maintained in inflationary terms.

Some aspects of university funding will not change: the extra fees for medicine, veterinary and dentistry courses will still be met from an additional grant, and families with assets of more than £0.5 million – not including the family home – will not be eligible for States funding.

The Treasury Minister, Senator Alan Maclean, said “After careful consideration, we have fine-tuned the original proposal to ensure we can support more Jersey students to get to university. This is a significant ongoing investment in education and we have a duty to make sure the available funds reach the islanders who need it most.”

The extra grants will be funded through underspends in the Education Department budget and, from the year of tax assessment 2019, the removal of the Higher Child Allowance, which will generate £3.5 million per year.

The Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, said “Our young people will now be able to contemplate a university education with less worry about financing it. I am delighted we have been able to find a solution that avoids large debt, either for students or for the island. This will ultimately strengthen Jersey’s economy by providing the skilled employees our businesses need to thrive.”

Acting Education Minister Deputy Anne Pryke said “This is excellent news for our students and their families. I am pleased that, as well as enabling young people to study outside Jersey, we are also supporting students who wish to make use of the high-quality degrees we have on the island. We will also continue to look at how these local options can be improved and expanded.”

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