Analysis of new Office for Fair Access (OFFA) figures conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS) shows that upfront bursary and scholarship spending on poorer university students is set fall by £83 million between the 2010/11 academic year and the 2015/16 academic year.
OFFA’s monitoring outcomes report for 2010-11 released today (Wednesday) show that a total of £358.5m was spent on scholarships and bursaries in 10/11, a sum that is set to decrease to £275.4m by 2015*.
The decrease is predicted despite Government promises to increase student support along with tuition fees, which will rise to a maximum of £9,000 from this autumn.
The analysis shows that the Government's additional £150m of National Scholarship Programme funding will be swallowed up to part fund £245.3m of fee waivers.
Waivers have been heavily criticised by NUS and others because the benefit does not reach students whilst they are studying but instead benefits higher earning graduates as they pay off the last of their student loans**.
Further analysis of spending on bursaries and scholarships in 10/11 revealed by OFFA also showed that on average students in the richest universities received twice as much in bursaries and scholarships than those in poorer universities***.
Commenting on OFFA’s 2010/11 monitoring report, Liam Burns, NUS President, said:
"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.
"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 channeling of money out of students’ pockets to get Government borrowing down by the back door is nothing short of daylight robbery.
"Many of those students most in need of support will be failed as a direct result of a regulator that thinks we will get more poor kids into uni by cutting the cash in their pockets. New leadership for OFFA and a rethink of access agreements and student support cannot come a day too soon."
N.B. This analysis does not include Further Education Colleges, Oxford University or Oxford Brookes University (for whom some data was unavailable)
* We have compared the amount given out in bursaries and scholarships to “OFFA Countable” students in 10/11 (£358.5m) with the predicted amounts to be given out by institutions in 2015 according to their approved access agreements (£275.4m)
** Recent NUS research shows two-thirds of students would prefer bursaries (66 per cent), with fewer preferring fee waivers (13 per cent) or a combination (17 per cent).
∗∗∗ In 10/11, students in the Russell Group (£1400) and 1994 Group (£1021) received more on average than those in the University Alliance (£790), Guild HE (£667) or Million+ (£667)
NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.
We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.