Another item on the agenda for BCBC’s Cabinet are proposals to change the support offered to looked-after children who attend university (pdf).
At the moment, BCBC supports nine children who’ve left care to attend university, though they expect that number to increase.
BCBC current pays a looked-after child’s accommodation costs, any shortfall in tuition fees not covered by a tuition fee grant (up to £3,900 a year) as well as a weekly maintenance payment during term time. On average, this amounts to £13,570 per student per year and is one of the most generous policies of its kind in Wales.
That could be about to end.
From the 2018-19 academic year, Welsh students will no longer be given grants to pay for tuition fees but will have to apply for loans instead. Students who’ve left care will also be eligible for up to £8,100 in maintenance grants and an optional £900 maintenance loan (if they study in London they’ll be eligible for more).
This new policy has provided BCBC with an opportunity to pull back the amount of support they provide students and instead shift the cost burden more to the students themselves.
At the moment, all looked-after students’ university costs are covered by BCBC. In the future, the report accepts they could face up to £29,700 of debt in tuition fee loans and top-up maintenance loans – though this will only be repaid as and when they earn above a certain amount.
Here are the proposed options in full:
Option 3 is the preferred option – which would involve BCBC giving the students a £1,000 a year incentive payment and £667 bursary – though all options will be put out for consultation.