The National Scholarship Programme (NSP), which was introduced along with the new fees system and was meant to fund the poorest students, may be abolished a year early in order to save £75 million.
Institutions autonomously decide how to allocate scholarship funds. At UoN, care leavers and students on a foundation year receive a full fee waiver for their entry year.
Other students with a household income of less than £20,000 can receive a partial fee waiver or accommodation discount of £2,000 along with a cash bursary of £1,000 in their entry year.
The Government indicates that the maximum award a student can receive from the NSP will be reduced from £3,000 to £2,000.
“It could make or break a student’s decision to go to uni”.
A student told Impact, “I’m eligible for both the NSP and a core bursary but you only get the NSP in your first year and it means you can’t get most other awards. In later years you can get a bursary. I chose to just get the bursary as it’s worth more and gives me living expenses. A fee waiver isn’t all that helpful as poorer students need help with living at university.
“I don’t think NSP changes will make a big difference here but at other universities it could make or break a student’s decision to go to uni.”
Leona Hinds, a 3rd year Spanish and Contemporary Chinese Studies student said, “Although at first it seems ludicrous and one of this government’s many attacks on education (cutting EMA and rise in tuition fees) I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Converting grants into loans should encourage students to be more careful with their money.
“Knowing that it’s not “free” may make them/us appreciate it more. I have seen many people waste their loan/grant money on things which aren’t accommodation, food or study materials.
“Often [students] are left in the dark”.
“The grant I receive from Student Finance isn’t huge, so I have no issues if it was converted into a loan so that the NHS for example can have more funding. But I would like to know where the money will be spent. The government in general should be more transparent with issues like this that affect students as often we are left in the dark.”
A second year International Relations student has an opposing view, “The government raised fees with the promise of using the extra money to ensure poorer but still bright students could still go to university but these cuts contradict that. I am only able to live comfortably because of my grant and bursary from the University.
“The government need to stop attacking students as we will be the future economic force and we need investment, there are other areas where they can comfortably make cuts.”
UoN has agreed with the Office for Fair Access to spend £16.3 million on access and widening participation.
Nicola Pickering, head of student finance at UoN told Impact that they are monitoring the situation. UoN has agreed with the Office for Fair Access to spend £16.3 million on access and widening participation. £13.7 million will be spent on bursaries, fee waivers and a contribution to the National Scholarship Programme.
Students with a household income of less than £42,600 will qualify for some form of bursary, ranging from £750 a year to £3,000 a year. The University will be required to draw up its access agreement for 2015/2016 in Spring next year and hope to continue its financial support options.
“Any proposal to balance the books on the backs of the poorest students would be disgraceful”.
Toni Pearce, president of the National Union of Students, said the plans were “outrageous”. She said: “Any proposal to balance the books on the backs of the poorest students would be disgraceful. NUS research has highlighted the real difficulties that many students have covering their basic living costs.
“This has shown the significant detrimental impacts that their financial worries have on performance, dropout rates, and even mental health. As well as introducing a deeply confused £9,000 fees system, the government’s abject failure to manage the influx of private providers has deepened instability and confusion.”
Senior News Reporter