Wales to increase student maintenance support by 9.4 per cent

Rise runs at more than three times the rate of uplift in England

January 19, 2023
The senedd
Source: iStock
Welsh Senedd

The Welsh government is increasing student maintenance support by 9.4 per cent – more than three times the rate of the increase in England.

Ministers said that the typical full-time student from Wales would be able to claim £11,720 in maintenance grants and loans for the 2023-24 academic year, up from £10,710 this year.

The Westminster government has been criticised for applying an uplift of just 2.8 per cent to English maintenance loans, which amounts to a significant real-terms cut with inflation running at 10.5 per cent.

This is in line with inflation predictions dating back to November 2020, which have proven to be significant underestimates, leaving students about £1,500 out of pocket.

In contrast, Welsh maintenance loans are being increased in line with the national living wage.

“Living costs should never be a barrier to studying at university. This increase in support will ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to access higher education,” said Jeremy Miles, the Welsh education minister.

“Despite continuing budget pressures, I have ensured that the value of support is increased accordingly at this time of exceptional cost-of-living pressures.”

Under Wales’ higher education funding system, maintenance support is provided via a mix of grants and loans, with the exact mix determined by students’ family income. The increase being announced by Mr Miles will also apply to part-time students.

A Universities Wales spokeswoman said that the cost-of-living crisis was “having an impact across the higher education sector”, with students from poorer backgrounds, with caring responsibilities, and who are estranged from their families particularly hard-hit.

“We welcome today’s announcement of increased student maintenance support for Welsh students, which will help to address some of the financial pressures facing Welsh-domiciled students during these difficult times,” she said.

“It is important to remember that around half the student body in Wales is domiciled outside Wales and does not receive the same level of support. Universities will continue to work proactively to help students who are struggling with financial hardship.”

Despite welcoming the maintenance support increase, universities have criticised the Welsh government for holding tuition fees – which students get grants for – steady at £9,000. This is £250 less than in England. Vice-chancellors have warned that after a £5 million cut in the overall higher education budget, many undergraduate programmes would be unviable if it were not for the higher fees paid by international learners.

Orla Tarn, president of the National Union of Students Wales, said that the maintenance support announcement “demonstrates the sort of long-term thinking that will make our education system and student life more sustainable”.

“The Welsh government has shown that it is possible to stand against regressive policies and make the most of its devolved powers,” she said.

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles