To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to make provision for postgraduate students whose courses have been extended as a result of covid-19 but are disallowed by Student Finance England from applying for further supporting loans through compelling personal reasons and other mechanisms.
Students are eligible to access one loan up to the maximum amount that was available when they started their course. There is no discretion within the regulations to increase the entitlement where a student extends their study, but students who have not accessed the maximum loan can apply for an additional amount of loan.
If a student has withdrawn from their course due to Compelling Personal Reasons, they may nonetheless be eligible for a further loan for a second full course. Withdrawal as a result of reasons connected to COVID-19 is usually considered to be one such Compelling Personal Reason.
Many higher education providers will have hardship funds to support students in times of need, including emergencies. The expectation is that, where any student requires additional support, providers will support them through their own hardship funds.
We have worked closely with the Office for Students to enable higher education providers to draw upon existing funding to increase hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. As a result, providers were able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April to July 2020 and £256 million for the academic year 2020/21 starting from August, towards student hardship funds.