DEL Minister Dr Stephen Farry announced the introduction of a new ‘top-up’ tuition fee loan for part-time undergraduate higher education students.
He said: “At the moment part-time students can access grant funding to support them with their tuition fees, but it is often not enough to cover the full cost of their tuition and it is also means tested. In reality, most part-time students are ineligible to receive any support and the vast majority must self-fund their studies. Following a public consultation exercise, I am now pleased to announce a new, non means tested, ‘top-up’ tuition fee loan for part-time students. Students from lower incomes will continue to be able to access the existing grants, but they will also be able to top them up with a loan for their tuition fees should they need to, providing them with the same level of tuition fee support over the lifetime of their course as their full-time counterparts. Students ineligible to receive the existing fee grants will also be able to access these new loans.”
There are currently about 20,000 students in universities and colleges who could potentially access the new ‘top-up’ loans.