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Written Statement - Higher Education Part-time Undergraduate Support

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

On 7 December 2012, I announced my decision to postpone the proposed implementation of a new package of support for part-time undergraduate students ordinarily resident in Wales. 

Since that announcement I have considered the significant impact that the introduction of higher fee levels has had on participation in part-time higher education courses in England. Whilst final enrolment information for 2012/13 will not be available for some time, initial data suggests that there have been significant reductions in the number of students wishing to undertake part-time courses in England.

Part-time higher education continues to be a priority for the Welsh Government. To encourage part-time learning in Wales, I intend to make funding available to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) to continue to subsidise the delivery costs of part-time courses. I will expect HEFCW to continue to fund part-time provision at broadly current levels and in return I would expect higher education institutions to exercise restraint in the setting of part-time tuition fees.

I am aware that some students may need access to support to cover the up-front costs of tuition fees for part-time courses. In order to ensure that undergraduate students have sufficient funds to cover the full fee, from 2014/15 eligible students studying at an intensity of over 25%of a full-time course will be able to access a non-means tested loan from Student Finance Wales. I have asked my officials to work closely with key stakeholders on the implementation of the proposed changes to the student support system for 2014/15.