Navigating the maze of student funding
It was with a great deal of reluctance that we decided earlier this year that the University had no choice but to set 2012 undergraduate tuition fees at the maximum £9,000 for home/EU students. I have explained the position that Government policy leaves us in many times so I won’t do so again here; our job now is to make sure that students understand clearly the new funding arrangements and – crucially – are aware of the availability of many different kinds of funding that can reduce their financial pressures.
To attempt to combat the confusion around the new fees, the Government has set up an Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information, which has declared today Student Finance Day. As part of it, the Taskforce is offering a toolkit to help universities and schools explain the new financing arrangements, which staff may find helpful.
The University’s Student Advice and Funding team is also talking to our FE students about the process of applying for funding for 2012 entry and will be running a workshop for staff on 16 November, which will be repeated later in the year – details are on the development and learning page at http://www.arts.ac.uk/about/departments/hr/developmentlearning.
Our belief is that tuition fee loans, which are paid back only when post-graduation salary reaches a certain level, and are written off after 30 years, are less of a disincentive than the immediate issue of covering the costs of day to day life. The University is therefore focusing on providing scholarships and bursaries to cover students’ living costs, providing advice to students about the money they can access, and also helping students manage their income and expenditure, in order to avoid the pitfalls of expensive forms of debt, like credit cards and payday loans.
Interestingly, at this University we have the rather unusual problem that not enough students and potential students know about the existing range of support that is available thanks to the generosity of philanthropic organisations and individuals. We are working to address that so all students know that funding is available and know how to access it. I’d like to ask all staff to help us raise awareness amongst students wherever possible. Information on the University’s scholarships and bursaries can be found here: http://www.arts.ac.uk/fees-funding/funding and the range of issues related to money here: http://www.arts.ac.uk/fees-funding/moneymatters/
I also welcome any other comments or questions you have on the issue of student finance and funding.
Monday, November 14th, 2011