Emily left an­gry over stu­dent fund­ing ‘cut’

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views - AB­BIE WIGHTWICK ab­bie.wightwick@waleson­line.co.uk

THE poor­est stu­dents from Wales go­ing to univer­sity will get £978 less un­der the new fi­nance pack­age start­ing next month.

One stu­dent start­ing univer­sity next month un­der Wales’ new stu­dent fi­nance pack­age says she is shocked that she, and oth­ers like her, from the poor­est back­grounds, will be worse-off than those un­der the old sys­tem, de­spite gov­ern­ment as­sur­ances.

Emily Hughes, from Maesteg, spotted the dis­crep­ancy when she and her par­ents com­pared the pack­age she will get with that of her brother An­drew, who starts his fourth year at the same time as she starts her first year at univer­sity next month.

The 19-year-old says she was an­gry that af­ter the Di­a­mond Re­view the poor­est stu­dents will get less money to live on, de­spite the gov­ern­ment say­ing they will be bet­ter­sup­ported.

Emily and An­drew, 21, both qual­ify for the max­i­mum loans and grants avail­able as their par­ents’ house­hold in­come is be­low £18,370.

An­drew is a fi­nal-year IT stu­dent at the Univer­sity of the West of Eng­land, get­ting £9,978 for main­te­nance liv­ing costs, while Emily gets £9,000. The money is made up from a grant and a loan.

An­drew – and oth­ers en­ti­tled to the max­i­mum help un­der the old sys­tem – will re­ceive money for liv­ing costs made up from a £5,161 main­te­nance grant and £4,637 main­te­nance loan mak­ing a to­tal £9,798 avail­able to him.

Emily – and oth­ers enti- tled to the max­i­mum help un­der the new sys­tem start­ing from Septem­ber 2018 – will re­ceive money for liv­ing costs made up from a £8,100 main­te­nance grant and £900 main­te­nance loan, mak­ing a to­tal £9,000.

Emily, who left Maesteg Com­pre­hen­sive last term, has been work­ing in a shoe shop all sum­mer to help fund her first year study­ing film and tele­vi­sion at Bath Spa Univer­sity.

She said it makes no dif­fer­ence that the money for liv­ing costs comes in a larger grant and smaller loan because the to­tal avail­able to her is still less and won’t cover her liv­ing costs. She says she will still need to get a job as the to­tal is not enough any­way.

“I was shocked when I saw I would get less in to­tal to live on. It’s a fig­ure that is hid­den away. I feel lied to and cheated. For me, I think univer­sity is ex­pen­sive but worth it in the end, but this might end up dis­cour­ag­ing some peo­ple.

“I will have to work to pay for univer­sity. Liv­ing costs are a worry. My shared flat in univer­sity halls is the cheap­est but will still be £154 a week – £6,000 a year – with­out food. Budgeting and food is a worry.”

Like other stu­dents, Emily will also have to take out a loan to pay her £9,000 an­nual tu­ition fees. But as she will only have to start re­pay­ing that when she earns more than £25,000, it is the day-to­day liv­ing costs which is a far big­ger and im­me­di­ate worry.

Her fa­ther Peter, who works part-time for a com­mu­nity council, and mother Su­san, a cleaner, said they al­ways wanted their chil­dren to go to univer­sity. Although they have bud­geted to help a bit with liv­ing costs from sav­ings, Emily and An­drew will have to work while they are stu­dents to help fund their stud­ies.

Peter said: “The Welsh Gov­ern­ment af­ter the Di­a­mond Re­view scrapped tu­ition fee grants and promised to bet­ter sup­port stu­dents with the main­te­nance pack­age to pro­vide more money for daily liv­ing, how­ever this is clearly not the case.

“It was de­ter­mined that the key bar­rier for stu­dents go­ing to univer­sity was daily liv­ing costs and there­fore the new pack­age was de­signed to specif­i­cally help en­cour­age more stu­dents from all back­grounds in Wales to go to univer­sity, and yet the Welsh Gov­ern­ment has done the op­po­site and cut the to­tal main­te­nance pack­age avail­able to stu­dents from the poor­est fam­i­lies.”

The Welsh Gov­ern­ment said: “There are some dif­fer­ences within the sys­tem, with some stu­dents ben­e­fit­ing in com­par­i­son with pre­vi­ous co­horts. Care is al­ways taken to en­sure that el­i­gi­bil­ity for stu­dent sup­port pack­ages is as fair as pos­si­ble.

“That is why Wales will be the only coun­try in Europe to pro­vide equiv­a­lent main­te­nance sup­port – in grants and loans – to part and full time un­der- grad­u­ates and post­grad­u­ates. In line with the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Di­a­mond Re­view, Welsh stu­dents start­ing their stud­ies in the 2018-19 aca­demic year will con­tinue to have ac­cess to the most gen­er­ous sys­tem of sup­port in the UK which is de­signed to en­sure that all el­i­gi­ble stu­dents are able to ac­cess a min­i­mum level of sup­port, re­gard­less of house­hold in­come. Re­pay­ment of fee loans con­tinue to be based on in­come af­ter grad­u­a­tion, not what you bor­row.”

Emily Hughes with her mum and dad, Peter and Su­san

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.