OFFA’s Annual Monitoring Report found that in 2010/11 the average amount spent on individual scholarships and bursaries by Russell Group universities (£1400) was well over twice the average amount than Million+ universities offer (£667).
To offset the impact of the tuition fees hike, students have been promised increased student support by ministers. This support comes in the form of £150m National Scholarship Scheme but this will be used to help fund £245 million fee waivers, which an
NUS study criticized. The report showed that 66% of students would prefer a scholarship or bursary, which would help students whilst they study, when they could really use it. Only 13% felt a fee waiver would be helpful.
Fee Waivers, essentially, make fees cheaper and therefore easier to pay off for the higher earning graduates (Check out the
Scholarship Search Guide to the new Tuition Fees). NUS president Liam burns states, "Every penny of the flagship National Scholarship Programme will be used by the sector to offer fee waivers, the benefit of which students will never see. This channelling of money out of students’ pockets to get Government borrowing down by the back door is nothing short of daylight robbery.”
OFFA is a regulatory body founded by the previous government to ensure people from poor, disadvantaged or ethnic backgrounds have fair access to university. The OFFA report found that more money was being ploughed into schemes benefitting poorer students, compared to 2009/10. In total, £20million more in 20/10/11 was spent on
But the study, along with the NUS analysis, proves that even though more money is being spent on getting poorer students into university, when the government pull the funding plug to universities in September (and the fees increase kicks in) it will make students from poorer backgrounds even worse off. Liam Burns suggests "Many of those students most in need of support will be failed as a direct result of a regulator (OFFA) that thinks we will get more poor kids into uni by cutting the cash in their pockets.”
It’s hardly conducive to a good education. It’s tantamount to the government taking vital resources - which would help get those from poorer families through university - and giving reduced fees to graduates who can afford to pay them anyway. That’s hardly fair. Liam burns thinks, “This Government's own access regulator has approved University plans that will see student bursary funding cut by over £80m. Rather than correct the problems of cash not reaching those who need it most, the problem will get worse by 2015.”
Matt M Jones