Concern for student with no news on university funding

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A STUDENT planning to start a postgraduate course in September has again raised her concern with politicians over funding.

In February, the Department of Education and Children announced that, subject to Tynwald approval, students’ contributions for the fourth and subsequent years of degree courses starting in 2012 will increase from £1,000 a year to £5,000 on a ‘loan-supported basis’.

Stacey Astill is a third year student of history and politics at Newcastle University and accepted an offer for a postgraduate course starting in September before the announcement was made.

The former Castle Rushen High School student has written to MHKs, and spoke at the first community meeting with ministers in March, about her concerns over the fact that students had been given little notice of the need to find the extra money.

In an email to Education Minister Peter Karran and a number of other MHKs, she said: ‘Despite emailing regularly and raising the issue on multiple occasions with various members, there is still no news regarding the promised loan scheme.

‘Many fourth year courses start in less than four months. Does the government recognise the short timescale that students are being asked to work to?’

She added: ‘Not only have we been plunged into £4,000 worth of debt with very little notice, but we still have no details about how much this is actually going to cost us, when we will have to pay it back, how long this will take and if there will be penalties for clearing debt early.’

She said the only indication she had been given was that the rate of interest on the loan support ‘should’ be 3 per cent above the base rate: ‘This is still quite worrying, students borrowing the full £5,000 will take six years to pay this off at £79 a month’, although she admits this is ‘a reasonable figure considering the economic climate’.

She received a reply from the Department of Education and Children on the minister’s behalf saying an announcement would be made in ‘due course’.

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