The Department of Education and Children will, this month, seek Tynwald’s approval for the Student Awards Regulations. Under these, students would, for the first time, from 2014, contribute £2,500 a year towards their degree courses, with those whose parents earn more than £80,000 a year contributing more on an incremental basis.
An Isle of Man Government loan scheme would allow students to borrow the £2,500 a year contribution, ensuring no-one misses out on a place at university.
When it published the regulations in December, the Department of Education and Children had envisaged that parents would be jointly liable, with students, for the loan repayments, as they are currently for the repayment of fees on certain cases if students fail to complete courses. Interest would have accrued from the outset of the loan.
However, the Minister for Education and Children has listened to the concerns of students, parents and political representatives and has brokered a revised scheme with Treasury whereby the student, alone, will be liable for the loan. It has also been agreed that interest will not begin to accrue until the student has completed his/her studies – even if they go on to study at postgraduate level.
The regulations allow the Department to defer the liability for interest payments and the contributor/parental guarantee in respect of the loan. Therefore there has been no need to alter the regulations that were published in December and that Tynwald will be asked to consider in January.
Minister Crookall said:
‘We have listened to the concerns expressed by students, their parents and my political colleagues that some lower earning families would have felt unable to take on responsibility for these loans and have agreed a change of policy accordingly.
‘Students would now be solely liable for the loans, which they would not begin to repay until a year after their studies are completed and only then if they are earning at least £21,000 a year.
‘The Island’s fiscal position and my Department’s budget means we have had no choice but to seek Tynwald’s go-ahead to introduce – with notice – charging for undergraduate courses from 2014. However, if the regulations are approved, the Department would still be funding most of students’ course fees in the vast majority of cases and we hope these amendments will mean that students won’t miss out on a place at university because of worries about how they will pay their contribution.’