To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment her Department have made of the effect of the new student funding regime on access to part-time undergraduates courses for (a) mature students and (b) those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
This Government were the first to introduce statutory support for students studying on a part-time basis. In the current academic year, a grant of up to £575 for fees and a course grant of up to £250 are available for students from the poorest backgrounds. The grants are means-tested in order to target funding most effectively at those from disadvantaged backgrounds. There is no age limit on the fee grant or the course grant, ensuring that part-time students have access to funding regardless of age.
In 2005/06 we are improving the fee grant arrangements by linking the maximum fee grant available to the intensity at which the student is studying. For example, for a student studying at 75 per cent. or more of the full-time equivalent course a fee grant of up to £885 will be available.
We will continue to monitor the sector to ensure that we use available funding in the most effective way to support those part-time students who most need it.