Manx students have not been put off by university tuition fees

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Early indications are the introduction of tuition fees has not discouraged young people from continuing into higher education.

That’s according to education chiefs, who have seen an 8 per cent fall (about 50 students) in the number of young people applying for tuition fee funding, compared with a similar time last year.

It had already predicted a reduction of about 30 students based on its policy of raising the academic bar for qualifying for financial support from this September.

Director of Education Martin Barrow said: ‘We will obviously be monitoring this situation very carefully.

‘But we are pleased that early indications are that changes to the Student Award Regulations, agreed by Tynwald, have not discouraged young people from pursuing the next stage in their education.’

In total, 575 students applied to the DEC for funding for first year higher education courses.

But the department has said it is very early in the academic year to be able to give accurate figure regarding the actual take up of university places as they are yet to ascertain whether all of those students who have applied for funding have taken up their places at university.

Meanwhile, the department has seen an increase in the number of students deciding to go to the Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education to undertake their degree course.

It has risen from 26 first year students in 2012 to some 59 in 2013.

A department spokesman said: ‘This is very much in line with the DEC’s policy of expanding the higher education offer available on the island and students taking up this opportunity do so for a range of reasons.’

They include:

• Not incurring the extra costs of living off island and travelling to and from a UK university

• Good results achieved at the Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education

• Smaller teaching groups, with easy access to tutors

• Proximity to potential employers for those students wanting to commence a career on the island after graduation.

The College plans to expand its higher education offering from September 2014.

It is looking at introducing a number of degree courses where students would complete their first year in the island and then go off island for the final two years.

For courses starting in September, students needed a minimum of 200 UCAS points (equivalent to two Bs). It was previously 160 UCAS points.

The residential criteria also increased from three to four years.

For undergraduate degree courses starting this year, students will be required to contribute to tuition fees from their second year.

They will have to make a loan-supported contribution of £2,500 per year.

Students from households with a total gross income of £100,000 per year, will have to contribute more on a means tested basis.

The student will start repaying the loan by July 1 of the year following the year in which he or she ceased to study when their earnings exceed £21,000.

Entry requirements for courses at the Isle of Man College are the same as for comparable courses in the UK.

• Have tuition fees affected your higher education choices? Email opinions@newsiom.co.im

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