To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on alleviating the rising cost of living pressures facing higher education students.
22 September 2022
The department recognises the additional cost of living pressures that have arisen this year and impacted students. Many higher education providers have hardship funds that students can apply to for assistance.
The Energy Price Guarantee announced on 8 September 2022 will save the average household at least £1,000 a year based on current energy prices from October, in addition to the £400 energy bills discount for all households. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are eligible for the energy bills discount.
We have provided guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) regarding funding for the 2022/23 financial year to support disadvantaged students and those who need additional help. Universities will continue to be able to support students through their own hardship funds and the student premium, for which up to £261 million is available for academic year 2022/23.
The department has also worked closely with the OfS to clarify that English providers can draw upon this funding now, to provide hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by cost-of-living pressures.
Maximum grants and loans for living costs have also been increased by 2.3% this academic year, 2022/23. Students who have been awarded a loan for living costs for the 2022/23 academic year that is lower than the maximum, and whose household income for the tax year 2022-23 has dropped by at least 15% compared to the income provided for their original assessment, can apply for their entitlement to be reassessed.
In addition, maximum tuition fees, and the subsidised loans available from the department to pay for them, remain at £9,250 for the 2022/23 academic year for standard full-time courses. We are also freezing maximum tuition fees for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years. By 2024/25, maximum fees will have been frozen for seven years. As well as reducing debt levels for students, the continued fee freeze will help to ensure that the higher education system remains sustainable while also promoting greater efficiency at providers.
As part of a package of support for rising energy bills, the government is giving a council tax rebate payment of £150 to households that were living in a property in council tax bands A to D as their main home on 1 April 2022. This includes full-time students that do not live in student halls or in property that is not considered a house in multiple occupation for council tax purposes.