BCBC support for university students who’ve left care set to be cut

Back in January, I wrote about changes to support BCBC would offer care-leavers who wish to study at university. After a consultation process, the Cabinet is due to make a final decision next week (pdf).

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 provided BCBC with an opportunity to pull back the amount of support they directly provide students and shift the cost burden more towards the students themselves.

Three options were put forward:

58% of people who responded to the consultation preferred Option 1 (where tuition fees are covered by BCBC, but the students pay for their own living costs), but the preferred option for BCBC was Option 3.

Despite the preference of the consultees, officers recommend that Option 3 (favoured by 28%) – where students will have to pay tuition and living costs themselves with BCBC providing £1,667 in bursaries and other incentives – be approved.

Officers justify this recommendation by saying Option 1 would reduce students’ financial independence and could single them out as a care-leaver when many may not want to have their background revealed. Students who’ve left care will also still be able to access support from Children’s Social Services.

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