§ Mr. Bagier
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement about student grants for the academic year 1977–78.
§ Mrs. Shirley Williams
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have now completed a review of student grants. In the present stringent economic situation it would not be appropriate, in relation to other members of the community, to seek to implement the full triennial review which would have been due this year. We have, therefore, decided that grant rates for the academic year 1977–78 should be fixed so as to maintain their present value. But we propose, as soon as circumstances permit, to reassess both the rates and the structure of the student support arrangements. In the course of this we will have discussions with the NUS and all interested parties.
For undergraduates, the main rates of grant to apply for the academic year 1977–78 will be increased as follows: for students living away from home in London from £955 to £1,145; for students living away from home other than in London from £875 to £1,010; for students living at home from £675 to £785. Suplementary grants will also be increased.
As I announced on 25th November, students with mandatory awards will not be required to pay any tuition fees. Adjustments will be made to the parental contribution scale for the academic year 1977–78 both to take account of the effects of inflation and to compensate parents for the reduction of child tax 63W allowance in the coming financial year, following the introduction of child benefit from April. The starting point for the parental contribution will be raised from a residual income of £2,700 to £3,200, and reductions in the contributions made throughout the scale. In addition there will be a minimum grant of £80 towards maintenance.
A number of other modifications in the grant arrangements have been made. These include the following: (i) all students who have taken advanced courses of two years duration will be given the same opportunity of support for the final year of a degree course as those who have obtained an HND or DipHE; (ii) there will be some relaxation of the rules whereby students are disqualified from mandatory awards because of previous study or late application; (iii) dependants' grants will be related to age and aligned with supplementary benefit allowances; (iv) improvements will be made in the qualifying conditions and levels of grant for mature students.
For postgraduates, the rates of grant for studentships awarded by the Education Departments and the Research Councils will be increased as follows: for students living away from home in London from £1,380 to £1,655; for students living away from home other than in London from £1,270 to £1,475; for students living at home from £925 to £1,075. Supplementary grants will also be increased.
Copies of a statement giving full details are available in the Library.