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Friday, January 29, 1999 Published at 13:02 GMT


Education

Loans for part-time students

Baroness Blackstone: "No student should be deterred"

A new loans system for part-time students has been announced following a 10% fall in the numbers of mature students applying to university.

They will be entitled to means-tested loans of up to £500-a-year for the first time from next year.

Part-time students - of whom there were 465,000 in 1997-98 - have always had to pay fees, but have never before been eligible for student loans to help meet the cost of their courses.

The Education Minister, Baroness Blackstone, said the Department for Education and Employment would be providing £30m over the next two years to finance the new loans in England. A similar scheme will be run in Scotland by the Scottish Office.

'Determined'

"The government is determined that no student should be deterred from going into higher education because of financial considerations," she said.

"Two-thirds of mature students are part-timers, who have had to pay fees for many years. Part-time numbers have remained steady for the last two years, which indicates that the picture for mature students is likely to be better than the UCAS figures suggest."

She continued: "I want to see more part-time mature students going into higher education. We have an extra 20,000 places available for part-timers next year.

"The measures we are introducing should help break down barriers to help those on low incomes take up such opportunities."





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