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Written Statement - Delay to the implementation of changes to part time student support

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Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

On 21 June 2011, I announced proposals for funding part-time higher education and a new package of support for part-time undergraduate students ordinarily resident in Wales. Following the initial consultation exercise and feedback from key stakeholders I announced that I intended to postpone implementation of the new system until the start of academic year 2013/14.

I established a working group chaired by HEFCW to advise on the implementation of the new system. The group considered the consultation responses on the part-time student support changes and any alternative means of providing funding for part-time HE courses studied at less than 25% intensity, and for students with equivalent level qualifications, (ELQ). I would like to thank the working group for their work and for the advice received from their chair, Dr David Blaney.

It is clear that whilst stakeholders and delivery partners welcomed my announcement and the proposed move towards greater parity between full-time and part-time study, there is strong support for a further delay in implementation of the revised arrangements.

Having considered the views of the working group and stakeholders, I have decided therefore to postpone implementation of a revised system for part-time higher education tuition fees and student support until academic year 2014/15.

I would like to take this opportunity to consider alternative approaches to providing part-time support and ensure that we take full account of the impact of the changes that have been introduced to part-time support in England. Final enrolment information for 2012/13 will not be available for some time, but initial feedback suggests that there have been significant reductions in the number of students wishing to undertake part-time courses in England.

I will therefore consider the options before making a further oral statement outlining our future plans for the part-time support system.  

In the meantime, I want to continue to encourage part-time study in Wales in line with the aims of For our Future. I can confirm that the existing support package currently available to Welsh domiciled part-time students will remain in place for academic year 2013/2014.

Therefore, eligible part-time students will continue be able to apply for: 

  • a means-tested Fee Grant;
  • a means-tested Course Grant; and 
  • other means-tested targeted support in the form of Childcare Grant, Adults Dependent Grants and Parents Learning Allowance.