Most Jersey students have already jet set for university, but as many as 500 are still waiting for confirmation of what funding they’ll receive from the government, it has emerged.
According to the Head of Careers and Student Finance, Lynne Haws, the government still does “not have all the information” necessary for processing the students’ grants – even though most have already started their terms.
The revelation came during a Scrutiny hearing, in which she was grilled on current student finance arrangements by Education and Home Affairs Panel Chair Deputy Rob Ward.
At the hearing, the Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois, explained that there had been a significant increase in the number of students coming in, with 650 applying for funding. She said the department has had to spend more money due to a larger proportion of the students being on the lower scale of the income and therefore requiring more funding.
Pictured: The Education Minister said more students required funding for university than before.
Adding that the department was now paying “all fees” for more students than before due to university funding changes passed the previous year resulting in a rise of “Jersey or low to middle Jersey” students, Ms Haws said that the paperwork processing delay had come about due to a “range of issues”.
“It could be that students have done better in their A- levels than they thought they were going to, or their Level 3s, and have decided to apply later in the day. It could be that they did not fill their tax form in until late, so their tax. So while we get in touch with income tax and say: “Can you put them to the top of the pile, because we are waiting?” there is a process to go through.”
She continued: “Students can forget. I know that sounds bizarre when we are looking at money, but they can. It is a case of trying to get through. Normally we would expect the ones that have not completed their applications in previous years, they would not have received much of a grant at all and therefore the urgency was not there.”>
Pictured: 500 students still haven't been assessed with regards to their grant.
The result, she said, is that the required budget is not yet certain: “While we are looking at the moment, the 500 does seem like it is going to be a significant amount. At the moment we have spent ... or we have got on our database £11 million, but that is for just over 1,000 students and we have got 500 that we are waiting, so it looks like it is going to be anything from about £14 million to £16 million for the year.”
The Scrutiny hearing had been called to investigate the Government Plan’s proposals for Education over the next four years – including a student finance scheme estimated to cost an additional £6million and due to be introduced in 2021.
Ahead of the hearing, the Student Loan Support Group expressed concern in writing to the Panel about the lack of detail offered.
Pictured: The Government Plan lacks details over higher education funding, the Student Loan Support Group said.
“With the figures supplied it is impossible to know what is planned,” they wrote. “There is not enough detail. If you can supply any details to the questions we have asked that would be very helpful… Currently we know less now than we ever did before.”
One of the lead campaigners, Nicola Heath, told Express that some answers had been provided during the Scrutiny hearing, but not enough to put parents’ minds at ease.
Stating that there had been a “similar situation” before the current finance scheme was introduced, Ms Heath recalled: “We had no details and it just appeared out of the woodwork. They didn’t give much details even in the proposal, it was only in the Ministerial Order that we learned what it was going to be. We have got no detail of what they are planning to do.”
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