HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc795-6W
Mr. Boswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what information he collates on differences in the recovery of outstanding student loans from graduates who are(a) based in the United Kingdom and (b) resident abroad. [129731]

Alan Johnson

Student loans are available to students domiciled in the United Kingdom. Data are collected on the payment and repayment of student loans, separately for income contingent loans (which were introduced in September 1998 as part of the new student support arrangements) and mortgage style loans (mostly applying to those who entered higher education before academic year 1998/99). These data are split according to the domicile of the borrower at the point of entering HE.

Data on the current residence of the mortgage style loan borrowers are not available in the Department. The recovery regime for these loans is the same for all borrowers whether resident in or outside of the UK. These loans are repayable on a mortgage style basis over five or seven years, depending on the number of loans taken out. Borrowers may apply to defer repayments for up to a year at a time if their income is below the current deferment threshold, otherwise repayments will be collected, whether the borrower is overseas or not.

Repayments of income contingent loans from borrowers resident in the UK are reported at the time when the Student Loans Company are notified of the repayments by the Inland Revenue, which may be one or more years after the tax year they relate to. Due to the time lag in collecting the information from the Inland Revenue it is too early in the scheme to have robust data for either comparison or trend purposes.

The Student Loans Company operates a separate recovery regime for income contingent loan borrowers who are outside of the UK tax system. The mechanism for collecting repayments requires borrowers to declare their total annual income to the SLC who calculate the repayment due, mirroring the rules applying to borrowers within the tax system. Sufficient robust data are not yet available.