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Students: Finance

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) of 11 June 2009, Official Report, column 1009W, on student finance, when he expects to announce the independent review of tuition fees. (295201)

My right hon. Friend, the then Secretary of State for Education and Skills, told the House in January 2004 that there would be an independent review of tuition fees once we had evidence on the first three years of the variable fee regime.

My noble Friend, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, has announced that the Independent Review of Variable Tuition Fees will be launched this autumn.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps he is taking to ensure that students resident in England applying to study at Trinity College, Dublin are correctly advised by Student Finance England on financial support which is available to them. (295249)

Trinity College Dublin is classed as an overseas institution for students resident in England, therefore the courses are not designated for support under the Education (Student Support) (No.2) Regulations 2008 and the students would not receive financial support from the English Government. Student Finance England would not be expected to provide advice on the support available to students intending to study at Trinity College but rather would refer them to the higher education authority in Dublin who would be able to advise on possible sources of financial assistance.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the merits of reducing the cost to students of taking a second degree. (295315)

In general, we believe it is right to give priority in spending public funds on students studying a degree for the first time. This has for some time been our policy on financial support for students, and it has increasingly been our policy in respect of the teaching grant paid to universities since 2008. We believe it to be the right policy on grounds of equity because it allows more people access to higher education; and because it is the most effective way to grow the number of people with high level skills. There are exceptions to this general presumption: for example, students going to study at a higher level, and students studying programmes which most clearly meet economic needs such as foundation degree programmes.