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Mature Students

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of higher education students entitled to receive the proposed new maintenance grant are estimated to come under the category of mature students. [110462]

The information requested is currently not available. I refer my hon. Friend to the response given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) on 6 February 2003, Official Report, column 357W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what financial support is available for mature students undertaking a full-time degree course at university with no earnings from any source. [110758]

We have greatly increased the financial support available to mature students. Nearly £250 million is being spent in 2002/03 on support for students with particular financial needs, including mature students, compared to £124 million five years ago.Under the Education (Student Support) Regulations eligible full-time mature students without earnings have all of their tuition fees paid from public funds. In the academic year 2003/04, they may also receive a student loan of £4,000, or £4,930 if studying in London, to assist with their living costs.

Statutory provision also includes additional grants for students with dependent children. The childcare grant pays 85 per cent. of actual child care costs covering the whole year. In the academic year 2003/04, a student Parent with one child may receive a child care grant of up to £5,967 whilst students with two or more children may receive up to £8,840. A new Parents' learning allowance of up to £1,300 a year is also available to students with dependent children to assist with course-related costs.

Access and hardship funds and hardship loans are discretionary support available through institutions of higher education for students who may need extra financial support for their course. Mature students are a priority group for this support and are assessed according to their individual needs.

Our White Paper "The future of higher education" proposes a number of new measures to provide more up-front support for students from less well-off backgrounds and to ensure that all students have sufficient support throughout their courses.