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Financial issues

Student Support: tuition fees and student loans for 2012-13 entrants onwards

In 2012-13 and 2013-14 the University of Reading, along with most other UK universities, will charge new full-time undergraduate UK/EU students tuition fees of £9,000 per year. Unless they have studied for an equivalent qualification previously, most UK/EU students can apply for a non-means-tested loan - from their Student Finance authority (England, Wales, N.Ireland, EU, SAAS) - to cover the full cost of their tuition fees.

Students' living costs are normally funded by student loans. All eligible students from England are entitled to 65% of the maximum loan (up to £5,500 in 2012-13); the remainder is means-tested. Students do not repay the loan until after they have left or graduated and their income exceeds £21,000. Amounts differ for students from outside of England.

English students from households with combined incomes of below £42,600, as determined by their Student Finance assessment, will also be eligible for a non-repayable Maintenance Grant of up to £3,2500.

In addition, the University of Reading will award English students with a household income of less than £25,000 a non-repayable cash bursary of £1000 and a fee waiver of up to £3,000 in year one of study under the National Scholarship Programme/Reading Bursary. Students were automatically selected in 2012/13 but will need to apply for this support in 2013/14.

Supplementary grants are available for disabled students and those with dependants (including lone parents). Further information is available from Direct.gov.uk - student finance, the Student Financial Support Team and the Disability Advisory Service in the Carrington Building.

The process of applying for student support is usually well underway before the student arrives at university; if a student is having problems arranging this, Tutors should always refer them to Student Financial Support in the Carrington Building rather than trying to provide help themselves.

 

Students experiencing financial difficulties should be encouraged to address them as soon as possible. The earlier advice is sought, the more rapidly problems can be resolved. Students can discuss their financial problems with the  RUSU Student Advisers and the Student Financial Support Team in the Carrington Building. Postgraduate students may also seek help help from the Advisory Team in the Carrington Building or the Doctoral Research office. The Careers, Placement and Experience Centre provides online information in addition to a Job Shop advertising local part-time jobs. There are also various funds to which students in severe financial difficulty can apply, as outlined below.

 

Hardship Funds

The University has a range of Hardship Funds covering, Home, EU, International, Undergraduate and Postgraduate students. One form covers all students. Students must be enrolled and facing difficulty in meeting their basic costs. The Fund cannot help students meet the cost of their tuition fees.

The Fund cannot provide the main financial support for a student and they will be expected to have explored all avenues of financial help before applying. Awards do not have to be repaid and can contribute to meeting costs such as accommodation, books and equipment, childcare, disability costs, travel and utilities. Payments in the form of short-term loans (if funding is delayed) can also be made. Any student meeting the eligibility criteria who is able to demonstrate financial hardship will be considered but special consideration will be given to students in the following groups:

  • Students with caring responsibilities
  • Students with disabilities
  • Final year undergraduate students

Application forms, Guidance Notes and further details can be found at Money matters , the student finance web pages.

Debts

It is University policy that a student who at the end of any term has any debt outstanding to the University shall not be permitted to continue his or her programme, save that exceptionally and only in cases of hardship, the Student Payments Manager shall have discretion to extend the date by which the debt must be paid and also to give the student permission to continue. This policy is implemented with an understanding and appreciation of student problems; a student in financial difficulties is given help and advice on money management, and in some cases an instalment plan can be agreed with the Student Payments Manager.

Nevertheless, the University must take appropriate steps against those who do not pay their bills. Student Payments write to all students who have not paid their bills. Students are invited to discuss the financial problems with the Student Payments Manager. In practice the great majority of debtor students do this and wherever possible arrangements for payment are agreed. Firm action is, however, taken in respect of those students who ignore this invitation.

Hall Wardens and, in the case of finalists, Heads of School, are also given the names of debtors in their Hall/School and are asked to raise the matter with the students concerned. A note of debtors is also sent to Tutors, with a request that the Student Payments Manager be informed of any mitigating circumstances known to the tutor. At the beginning of the ninth week of term termination letters are sent to students who have not paid or who have not reached an agreement with the Student Payments Manager.

Where the student's sponsor has failed to pay the fees, the fee debt is transferred to the student's personal account at the end of April, unless the sponsor is an official body such as a research council which pays fees in instalments.

These arrangements are varied for final year undergraduates; the possibility of cancellation of their enrolment is not normally pursued at the end of the Spring Term. Finalist debtors receive with the information sent to them about graduation ceremonies a reminder that all outstanding debts must be paid by a specified date and confirmation that examination results will not be submitted to Senate and certificates will be withheld from those who have not paid. In Week 5 of the Summer Term, the Student Payments Team sends to Heads of School a list of those who, at that point, have debts exceeding £10, asking them to ensure that the results of those listed are not published by the School, nor communicated to the students until the debt has been paid. The list is also sent to the Examinations Office. Heads of School are also asked to apply such pressure as they deem appropriate, consistent with not damaging the student's focus on their final examinations. As a minimum they should ensure, either directly or through tutors, that the student is aware of the existence of the debt and of the consequences of non-payment and that the tutor is kept informed.

In the case of a debt of less than £50 the Vice-Chancellor has discretion, on behalf of the Senate, to waive the ruling concerning the withholding of results and graduation. Any student who wishes to ask for this discretion to be exercised should write to the Student Payments Manager, stating clearly the grounds on which the request is made. Students with a tuition fee debt of less than £50 will not receive their certificate until the debt is cleared.

At the end of the academic year, re-enrolment details are not sent to students who have debts which are more than trivial; they receive instead a letter confirming that until the debt is settled they will not be allowed to enrol and must meet with the Student Payments Manager to discuss their financial situation and to set up and instalment plan if required.

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