HC Deb 05 April 2001 vol 366 cc278-9W
Mr. Boswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what proportion of parents are(a) expected to and (b) discharge their obligations to fund their children who are students under the student support arrangements. [155874]

Mr. Wicks

[holding answer 28 March 2001]: In England and Wales students on undergraduate courses and their families are expected to make a contribution towards their tuition fees and living costs (maintenance) only if they can afford to do so.

In academic year 1998–99, the latest year for which data are available, the proportion of higher education students whose parents were assessed to pay towards their support under the Education (Student Support) Regulations and who were assessed to contribute towards their fees was 65 per cent. Of these, an estimated 41 per cent. were assessed to pay the full support (£1,000 in 1998–99) and 24 per cent. were assessed to pay a partial contribution towards fees.

Data on parental contributions to tuition fees and to students' maintenance are available from the Student Income and Expenditure Survey in 1998–99. Based on a nationally representative sample of just over 2000 full-time students the survey estimates that the parents of 42 per cent. of students were assessed to make a contribution towards maintenance. Of these students 50 per cent. received more than the assessed amount, 20 per cent. received the exact amount, while the remaining 30 per cent. received less than the assessed amount.

The new student support arrangements introduced in 1999–2000 more than doubled the maximum amount of student loan from £1,685 to £3,635, in order to ensure that parents pay no more in upfront contributions than under the previous system. The value of the loan under the new arrangements increased, in cash terms, by 62 per cent. between 1997–98 and 1998–99 (the transitional year) and by 116 per cent. between 1997–98 and 1999–2000 when support for living costs was solely through loans (except for students in vulnerable groups who are also eligible for supplementary grants).

In 1998–99 only first year students were liable to pay tuition fees. In the Student Income and Expenditure Survey 42 per cent. of first year students said that their parents had been assessed to make a contribution towards fees, and of these four in five said that they had received the full amount. The one in five students who reported receiving less than the full parental contribution to fees is based on a small sample of students (237). This small number, although the result of a nationally representative sample, is subject to sampling error.

Universities UK (formerly the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals) conducts periodic surveys of fee payment to higher education institutions. The latest, in November 2000, estimated that 97 per cent. of students' fee contributions for the previous academic year would be paid by the end of October 2000.