To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact of rising energy prices on students in higher education.
To support disadvantaged students and those who need additional help, the department has confirmed in guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) on funding for the 2022/23 financial year that universities will continue to be able to support students in hardship through their own hardship funds and the student premium, for which up to £261 million is available for academic year 2022/23.
We have also worked closely with the OfS to clarify that English providers can draw upon this funding now, to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by cost-of-living pressures.
Maximum grants and loans for living costs have also been increased by 2.3% this academic year. Students who have been awarded a loan for living costs for the 2022/23 academic year that is lower than the maximum, and whose household income for the 2022/23 financial year has dropped by at least 15% compared to the income provided for their original assessment, can apply for their entitlement to be reassessed.
In addition, maximum tuition fees, and the subsidised loans available from Government to pay them, remain at £9,250 for the 2022/23 academic year in respect of standard full-time courses. We are also freezing maximum tuition fees for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years. By 2024/25, maximum fees will have been frozen for seven years. As well as reducing debt levels for students, the continued fee freeze will help to ensure that the HE system remains sustainable while also promoting greater efficiency at providers.
As part of a package of support for rising energy bills, the government is giving a council tax rebate payment of £150 to households that were living in a property in council tax bands A to D as their main home on 1 April 2022. This includes full-time students that do not live in student halls or in property that is not considered a House in Multiple Occupation for council tax purposes. Alongside this, the government is also making available discretionary funding of £144 million to support vulnerable people and individuals on low incomes, including students, to support those ineligible for council tax.
The government has also announced that households will get £400 of support with their energy bills through an expansion of the Energy Bills Support Scheme. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are also eligible for this support. Furthermore, The Energy Price Guarantee, announced on 8 September, will save the average household at least £1,000 a year based on current energy prices from October. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are eligible for the energy bills discount.