To be eligible for financial support higher education students must be attending a course. Students who are temporarily absent due to illness can continue to receive support until they have been absent for 28 weeks. At that point, a sick student becomes eligible for sickness benefit. A student who withdraws from his or her course, for whatever reason, is ineligible to receive assistance through the student support system and becomes subject to the arrangements under benefits system.
Many further education students receive financial support from the bursary award scheme but there is no specific provision for students absent due to illness. Students experiencing particular financial difficulties can apply for assistance to the Access Fund operated by the Colleges. Generally there are no financial repercussions for short-term absences but, since bursaries are discretionary awards, each case is judged on its own merits. Where a student is on long-term sick leave the college will advise the student whether he or she should continue the course. If the student withdraws, the bursary is stopped and, if unemployed, the student reverts back to the benefits system for support.