Page last updated at 00:11 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 01:11 UK

Student maintenance cash frozen

Graduation ceremony
The system of student finance is different around the UK

Student maintenance grants and loans in England will be frozen for the academic year 2010-11, the government has announced.

However, loans to cover tuition fees will be raised in line with the increase in the fees themselves.

Tuition fees will increase by 2.04% from September 2010, higher education minister David Lammy said.

He insisted that "difficult decisions" had to be made in the current economic climate.

The full maintenance grant, payable to students whose family income does not exceed £25,000, will remain at £2,906.

Maintenance loans and thresholds will also remain at 2009-10 levels.

Grants available for trainee teachers will also be reduced to be brought into line with amounts available to other students, Mr Lammy said in a written ministerial statement.

He said: "In these difficult economic times, we are continuing to take difficult decisions in the interests of students, universities and taxpayers alike.

"We have therefore decided to maintain the current package of maintenance support for full-time students, reflecting the current low inflationary environment."

Recession

The Russell Group of 20 leading universities said it was "vital" that income from tuition fees kept pace with inflation.

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"The introduction of fees has managed to halt a long-term decline in funding per student but funding for higher education in Britain is still significantly lower than in most other OECD countries," said its director general, Wendy Piatt.

"The system of student support in England remains one of the most generous - and expensive - in the world."

But the National Union of Students president, Wes Streeting, said: "Students are already racking up thousands of pounds of debt, and in a recession every penny counts.

"It appears that the inflation rate is being applied where it suits universities, but not where it will improve student support.

"In the context of the current recession, these real terms cuts in student support will be felt in students' pockets."

And the general secretary of the University and College Union, Sally Hunt, said ministers had "failed" to ensure higher education was not a victim of the recession.

Loans

Students in England can apply for a means-tested grant to cover living costs - the value of this depends on their family income.

They can make up any shortfall by applying for a maintenance loan.

In addition, a tuition fee loan to cover fees is paid by the government on behalf of every student directly to the institution they attend.

These are repayable after graduation once annual income reaches £15,000.

Students in Northern Ireland are charged the same fees as in England.

Students in Wales are also charged the same, but the Assembly government provides a subsidy for all Welsh students so they only have to pay £1,285.

In Scotland, home students do not pay any fees. Others are charged £1,775 a year (2009-10 rate).

Students from elsewhere in the EU studying in the UK pay the same as those locally.

Those from outside the EU have to pay whatever universities charge - typically around £10,000 a year.



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SEE ALSO
Universities push for higher fees
17 Mar 09 |  Education
Student fees around the UK
16 Mar 09 |  Education
Q&A: Student fees
09 Jul 09 |  Education

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