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Welsh uni students receive most financial support in UK

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Welsh university students receive the most financial support in the UK.

A report announced the difference in student grants, loans, fees and debts, with Wales coming out on top.

The news was welcomed by Glyndŵr University’s Money Doctor, Jenny Jones, who also revealed that between September and December last year the Wrexham institution’s funding and welfare team identified more than £120,000 of extra cash support for students, who were not aware they could apply for it.

Lucy Hunter Blackburn, former head of higher education at the Scottish executive and author of the report for the Economic and Social Research Council's Future of the UK and Scotland programme, compared different funding systems for 2014-15.

Following 15 years of devolution, she wanted to find out which part of the UK offered the most generous student grants, the lowest fees and the least student debt.

"For the poorest third or so of full-time students, the Welsh system is particularly good,” she said.

"They receive the greatest help with the cost of living away from home."

The report found that in Wales, students from households with incomes of less than £18,000 get a cost-of-living grant (which does not have to be paid back) of £5,161 – nearly three times as much as the same group of students in Scotland (£1,750).

It is also significantly more than the maximum cost-of-living grants in England (£3,387) and Northern Ireland (£3,475).

The point at which families earn too much to qualify for any grant is also highest in Wales (a household income of just over £50,000) and lowest in Scotland (£34,000).

Welsh students enjoy a unique loans system, only needing to take one out for the first £3,685 of their tuition fees – even if fees are £9,000 – with the Welsh Government paying the rest.

Welsh mature students are also eligible for extra grants, which is why Jenny believes the north east Wales University is an ideal academic location for people of all ages.

“Welsh students do benefit most in the UK, and there’s no doubt there’s a correlation between sufficient grants and loans and the ability to stay at university,” she said.

“The grants and loans that Welsh students can apply for offer a way forward for those who might not previously have thought they could afford to attend university, and who worry they won’t be able to continue to study.”

She added: “From September to December last year our funding and welfare team identified more than £120,000 of funding students were not aware they could apply for.

“This additional cash makes the job of assisting those students just a little bit easier and Glyndŵr University’s progressive response in helping them budget and manage that money means they will be able to continue their studies to a successful outcome.”

The report by Lucy Hunter Blackburn comes after Glyndŵr, which is just six years old, enjoyed a staggering 32% increase in acceptances during the 2013/14 UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admission Service) cycle.

The upturn was the fifth highest in the UK. 

Latest figures for 2014/15 reveal the institution was 20% up on last year’s record-breaking numbers. 

Glyndŵr’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Michael Scott, said the surge in prospective students is testament to the hard work of the university’s academic and operational staff. 

 “People know that if they want to get to Glyndŵr they have to apply now, and we will cater for their needs,” he said.

“Whether they are young or old we strive to make the academic and social experience here as positive as possible, and they realise that.”

The number of UK student acceptances at Glyndŵr rose by 39% between 2012 and 2013.

Ahead of the University’s open day this Saturday, Head of Recruitment Julie Cowley said the upturn bucks the trend in other parts of the UK. 

 “A number of new initiatives were put in place to attract students, and we have many new courses beginning in September that have already proven popular,” she said.

“Among them are (subject to validation) Chemistry with Green Nanotechnology, Sports Management, Computer Game Development, and Immersive Technology.

“We’ve had a positive start to 2014 but there are still places available. We hope this report, which highlights the fact Welsh students receive the most financial support in the UK, will lead to an influx of applications here at Glyndwr University.”

For more information on this Saturday’s open day at Glyndŵr University, visit the website: http://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/Howtoapply/VisitGlyndwrUniversity/OpenDays/
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