In an overhaul of Welsh student finance, the standard tuition fee grant of £5,100, paid to all Welsh students, will be scrapped and replaced with a grant of £1000.
These grants will come alongside a means-tested maintenance grant of over £8,000 for students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.Students from households earning over the £59,200 threshold will only be eligible for the £1,000 grant.
The changes are hoped to be implemented in the 2018/19 academic year and would enable students from families of average income to receive around £7,000 annually, with a pro-rota version available to part-time students.
Education Secretary Kirsty Williams voiced her support for Prof Sir Ian Diamond’s recommendations for the student finance system, saying that the aim was to “introduce the most generous and progressive system anywhere in the UK”. She continued, “Our proposals are a fundamental shift so that Wales can develop a higher education funding and student finance system that really does provide for all.”
Prof Diamond, vice-chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said that the shake-up would result in students from Wales facing a “significantly lower level of debt on leaving university than those from England”. Figures from the Student Loans Company reveal that the average loan balance for Welsh students who started repayments in 2015/16 was £16,120, compared to £24,640 for English students.