Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education, visited the University's Cyncoed campus on Thursday (Sept 20th) to take part in an informal talk on Welsh Government's new student finance plan. A group of Cardiff Met students was keen to hear how the new finance package will affect them and students were given the opportunity to ask the Cabinet Secretary a range of questions directly.
Students asked how the new changes to student finance will affect their management of living costs, and their future debt. The new student finance scheme follows recommendations of Wales' own 'major review' of higher education funding in 2017, led by Professor Sir Ian Diamond, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, which was commissioned following concerns that the previous scheme was unaffordable.
Under the new scheme, every eligible student can claim a minimum grant of £1,000 they will not have to pay back, regardless of their household income. This is part of an overall mix of grants and loans for living costs equivalent to receiving the National Living Wage, available to every eligible student while they study.
Grants are means-tested to support those who need them most. Students from homes with lower household income will receive the highest grant – up to £10,124 in London and £8,100 in the rest of the UK. It is likely that around a third of full-time students will be eligible for the full grant. Students who receive a smaller grant can access a loan to top up the amount they receive equivalent to the National Living Wage level.
The new student finance package is designed to ease living-cost pressures and to widen access to higher education. The new system aims to ensure that all eligible undergraduates starting university this September will have enough money to cover their cost of living.
Vice-Chancellor and President of Cardiff Metropolitan University, Professor Cara Aitchison greeted the Cabinet Secretary for Education on her visit. She said: "We are delighted to welcome the Minister to Cardiff Met today and very pleased that our students have been given this opportunity to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities the new student finance package will offer as they begin their higher education journey."
The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams said: "I was delighted to meet the students to discuss our student support package. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to understand their experiences with student finance, and to answer any questions they had. They were a pleasure to talk to, and a credit to their university."
"Living costs must not be a barrier to going to university. I want everyone who has the talent, potential and ambition to have that opportunity. Whether it's studying full-time or combining it with your career and studying part-time, university should be an option for everyone, no matter what your background or income."