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Students: Finance

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will include current undergraduate students in plans for increased maintenance grants under the Government's new student finance package; and if he will make a statement. (180910)

The Government's plan for increasing the income thresholds for full and partial entitlement to maintenance grants, as part of the changes to the support package that were announced on 5 July 2007, will apply only to students who will be entering higher education in or after September 2008. We have no plans to extend this change to cover existing students. The fundamental changes to the system that we introduced in 2006, which included the deferment of fees by taking out a loan, rather than paying them up-front, offered a very attractive support package, and this continues to be available to current students.

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what mechanisms his Department plans to introduce to ensure EU-domiciled students are subject to the new funding arrangements for people who are studying for equivalent or lower qualifications. (199657)

There will be amendments to the appropriate regulations to reflect that all students, including EU-domiciled students, who wish to study an equivalent or lower level course of higher education in England will be subject to the new funding arrangements

The overwhelming majority of both EU and UK students are honest and will follow the rules in good faith. But there will be mechanisms to prevent deliberate fraud as there are under the current system and these will operate in a way that sets an appropriate balance between the need for regulation and the desire to avoid an overly bureaucratic system. In all cases, HEFCE will work with institutions to audit fundable student numbers and final HEFCE funding will be determined on the basis of audited returns and through a robust audit process. The Student Loans Company will be reviewing its processes to cover the new arrangements and ensure that mechanisms are in place to deter and detect fraudulent applications.