Students on courses at all the publicly-funded universities are eligible for tuition-fee loans from the Student Loans Company.
The Student Loan Company also makes tuition-fee loans available to students on ‘designated courses’ at certain providers outside the traditional university ‘sector’.
How to find out if a course is designated
The Student Loans Company provides a search web page which lists designated courses:
These fees seem very high: am I entitled to more for my money?
Plans to change the system of funding for higher education in England including a substantial rise in tuition fees were outlined in the White Paper Students at the Heart of the System, published in June 2011.
(These changes do not apply in Wales or Scotland, which have their own Funding Councils and their own arrangements):
Are universities getting more money then?
Previously each publicly-funded university in England was allocated a ‘block grant’ of public funding, which it spent on teaching and research and resources needed to support teaching and research. With that restriction, it was free to choose how to allocate this money internally and universities tended to ensure that they were able to offer courses and modules as advertised.
The ‘teaching’ funding element has now been almost entirely replaced by tuition fee income and the tuition fee for each student raised, in most cases, to £9,000 a year.
Because the university has lost so much of the old block grant to cover teaching this does not necessarily add to its income. It also makes it more difficult for universities to plan and to keep their academic staff on long-term contracts because their income to cover the costs may be uncertain.
Students are entitled to expect that the course will be delivered as promised in the prospectus, but there may be disclaimers in the university’s literature to allow it to make changes.
What will happen if a provider has a course dedesignated or goes out of business?
Any provider facing ‘dedesignation’ will have a lot to lose, including enormous reputational damage. Specifically, a provider would lose the right for its students to obtain loans from the Student Loan Company for any of its courses which were ‘dedesignated’. It could well become financially unviable.
Under the new arrangements even established universities will be exposed to the possibility of such ‘dedesignation’.
If a designated course is de-designated or a provider fails altogether, the Minister says he has asked the funding council working with Government and the wider sector to look at options for developing a Designation Resolution Process.’
What will happen to students whose courses are dedesignated while they are on them where the provider is not a subscriber to the OIA?
It is to be anticipated that provider challenges to designation will be protracted and determined and may continue through the courts and it will not be easy to protect students who are caught up in the consequences