University fees: £150k threshold is ‘too high’

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Among the concerns raised in the consultation was that the £150,000 threshold for full funding was too high and that the proposals originally put forward by Treasury Minister Alan Maclean during last November’s Budget debate were ‘too generous’.

Senator Maclean revealed that the States would pay tuition fees up to £9,250 for all families with a household income of less than £150,000, while families with a combined income of more than that amount would receive half the cost of tuition fees.

Currently, the lowest-income households – those that earn less than £34,000 a year – can receive up to £9,250 towards tuition fees and up to £6,000 towards maintenance costs. Any household earning more than £101,000 is not entitled to receive any financial assistance, and students from Jersey cannot access the UK loan scheme.

The Education Department held a month-long consultation which received more than 3,300 responses – almost two-thirds of which were from parents.

And while 88 per cent of those respondents were in favour of providing grants for students heading to university, the consultation said that several key themes emerged during the discussions – including the £150,000 household threshold being too high.

Education Minister Rod Bryans said: ‘It is essential that the Island helps its young people realise their potential without putting unbearable financial pressure on the families who support them.

‘This has been a valuable consultation and I would like to thank everyone who took part and gave us their views.’

Senator Maclean has previously said that the cost of the fees would be covered from existing revenues and underspends in 2018 and 2019 but that beyond that an additional £4 million a year would have to be found.

No proposals have yet been put forward as to how higher education grants would be funded in the future.

The Council of Ministers have confirmed that, following the consultation, they are considering amendments to what was originally discussed and a proposition with a revised scheme will be lodged as ‘soon as possible’ by Deputy Bryans.

Chief Minister Ian Gorst said: ‘Education has been a strategic priority of this Council of Ministers and rightly so. A highly skilled workforce is essential if we are to ensure Jersey’s continued prosperity but, over and above that, I believe this is a fantastic thing to do for our students. It means they can aim high for themselves and for our Island.’

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