Economy Minister set to increase student maintenance by 40%

Economy Minister set to increase student maintenance by 40%
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has announced a 40% increase in maximum student maintenance loans from academic year 2023/24.
The Minister has also confirmed that his Department will seek to undertake a full review of the higher education funding system, including the support provided to students such as maintenance loans, grants and other student support products, and the support provided to the sector, such as the level and mix of teaching grant and fees.
In addition, the Minister has confirmed an uplift of 1.8% to tuition fees and tuition fee loan products.
The maximum maintenance loan support to full time undergraduate NI-domiciled students will increase:
•    for students living at home from £3,475 to £5,250
•    for students living away from home from £4,840 to £6,776
•    for students living in London from £6,780 to £9,492
Chloe Ferguson, NUS-USI President responded: 


“I’m pleased to see that the Minister has responded to our calls for more financial support for students and committed to this increase in funding for students next year. This is the first time student finance has been increased since 2010, and the Department’s recognition of the need to significantly increase student incomes only strengthens our argument that all students should receive a Cost of Living Payment this year. 

“The students I’ve talked to this year are genuinely afraid of how they’re going to get through the next couple of months. They are often working full-time hours on top of full time study just to meet their basic living expenses. Students’ unions are not only setting up foodbanks, but also ‘heat’ banks where students can come to get warm, and hygiene banks where students can get toiletries and take showers. The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet our students can’t afford to feed themselves or keep warm. There needs to be an immediate crisis response, as well as long-term planning to reverse years of income stagnation.  

“It is worth noting that this announcement, whilst positive in terms of getting more money into students’ pockets, is actually an announcement about greater debt. Tuition fees will increase by 1.8%, and the increase in funding is in the form of loans. Student debt is set to climb even higher. 

“There has also been no commitments as of yet to increase support for students in further education, or to introduce support for post-graduate students, who receive no student finance at all.  

“In committing to a review of the higher education funding system, we urge the Department to introduce a fully-funded third level education system, bringing in a Basic Student Income for all students and getting rid of the unstable system of loans and debts which penalises students from low-income backgrounds.”   

The Economy Minister said: “I am acutely aware of the difficulties that continue to be faced in the current cost-of-living crisis by people right across society, and not least by students. 
“In this context, I am pleased to confirm a 40% increase in the maximum student maintenance loan available to full-time undergraduate students from academic year 2023/24, providing additional support estimated at around £55million to approximately 40,500 NI-domiciled students studying in the UK and Republic of Ireland. 

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