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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. There are two delays.

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The certificate of eligibility has to be secured first, which takes some time. Secondly, the 30 days begins only when the application has been made and it cannot be made until the Secretary of State has made arrangements for an application certificate to be issued.

I refer to tuition fees and no loan facility being extended. As regards a parent with a son or daughter going to university this autumn who perhaps qualifies to pay only £500 of tuition fees--therefore the parent is on a modest income--who is expected to find the £500: the student, who has no money whatsoever and no income whatsoever, or the parent, who has no residual income left? If it is the parent who is expected to find the money, the Government cannot keep stating in leaflets--as they do--that parents will not be expected to find one extra penny when their young daughters and sons go to university.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, students whose parents have been means tested will this coming year--if their parents are eligible because their income is sufficiently low--continue to receive a grant. Some 25 per cent. of their maintenance will be covered by grant. That will be paid when the student arrives at university, just as it is now. Therefore there is no problem in terms of students not having any funding. It is important that I make this point clear. I shall refer first to maintenance and then discuss fees. However, I think we should leave the fee issue out of this because it has nothing to do with these regulations. As regards maintenance, students will continue to have access to a grant during 1998-99 which covers 25 per cent. of their maintenance, because this is a transitional year. The students therefore will receive that before they start their courses. I hope I have made that clear.

The noble Baroness asked about the certificate of eligibility. In devising this scheme we made it absolutely clear from the beginning that the payment of admission--I am sorry, I cannot find my correct note on the certificate of eligibility. I shall return to that matter in a moment. As regards the payment of tuition fees to universities, that is not part of these regulations. That is a matter that concerns the quite different issue of fees. However, it is for universities to collect the fees. I believe that they will benefit considerably--as we have already announced in the comprehensive spending review--from this new scheme. I remind the noble Baroness that universities already collect fees for a whole variety of different kinds of students: postgraduate students, part time students and students from overseas. They are used to doing that. From my own experience I know that universities are well able to undertake that task.

The noble Baroness, and I believe the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, asked whether universities are being adequately rewarded for the work they undertake in collecting fees, in providing hardship funds and in increased access fund payments. The government of the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, did not increase the funding available to universities for taking on these tasks for a whole five years. We have increased the funding. Our increase is slightly greater than inflation

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over that period. We are also paying an additional £1 per application--not per payment--of hardship funds. I believe the universities accept that that is reasonable.

I return to the issue of the eligibility certificate and application form in one document. They are completed at the same time. One part is sent to the Student Loans Company by the college or university and the second part by the student. The regulations simply separate out the information to be provided on both parts of the form. There should be no delay caused by having to complete both forms as they are done at exactly the same time at the same interview.

The noble Baroness also asked whether there was a definition of ordinary residence. There is no such definition in the legislation but the phrase has a long-established meaning. It has been used in the existing student loans scheme. There have been cases in the courts which have clarified what I believe is now a pretty well understood definition. The noble Baroness also asked what happens to a student who moves from where he or she is ordinarily resident to attend a course. Regulation 2(2) provides that if a student moves from, say, Scotland or Northern Ireland to England, he will be treated as ordinarily resident in the place where he has moved from.

I turn to the points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock. She was concerned about the payment of loans by instalment, particularly as regards mature students. I have a great deal of sympathy for mature students but I think they, like younger students, will need to receive support throughout the academic year. I do not think it would be particularly helpful to them to have all the money up front rather than at the beginning of each term. That will allow them to make payments--if they have to make any--at the beginning of each term. The noble Baroness also asked about the cost of administration to the university. I think I have covered that. She also asked whether the--

Baroness Maddock: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. With respect, she did not cover the point that I raised. Is the money being provided to help with administration costs in universities, extra money, or is it top-sliced from other money in the higher education budget?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the extra money that is being provided to support universities in carrying out the administration of the scheme is extra money for the universities. It will be covered by the additional money provided under the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The noble Baroness asked that anything that might go wrong should be put right. I very much hope that matters will not go wrong and that the introduction of the new loans scheme will go smoothly. We shall monitor very carefully the scheme's introduction. Where there are problems, we shall do our very best to iron them out, and do so as soon as we possibly can.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, the answer given in relation to the

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eligibility form is not consistent with the regulation. I should be glad if the noble Baroness would clarify what she has just said.

Subparagraph (7) of paragraph 5 states:

    "If the Secretary of State is satisfied that the particulars in the eligibility form are correct and that the student is an eligible student he shall certify those matters to the best of his knowledge and belief and also certify the amount of loan for maintenance to which he considers the student is entitled".

The regulation goes on to state:

    "The Secretary of State shall issue to each student whose eligibility he has certified an application form"--

so the forms are not dealt with at the same time--

    "which identifies the particular certificate of eligibility".

Paragraph 6(1) states that an eligible student--in other words has to secure eligibility first--

    "shall apply for a loan for maintenance".

That is wholly inconsistent with the answer given by the noble Baroness.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I can only repeat what I said. The application forms are completed at the same time. One is passed to the Student Loans Company by the college or university, and I understand that the second, the function of certifying, will be exercised by the higher education institution. I hope that that helps the noble Baroness in explaining the system.

Of course we must avoid a system in which we ask students to do things that make the process unduly complex and difficult. I assure the noble Baroness that that is not the case. Students will all receive access to their loans within the time specified and there will be no delays. That is a requirement that we are making on the Student Loans Company. It will be given targets that it must achieve. There should be no delay whatsoever caused by having to complete both forms, which I am advised have to be completed at the same time.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, this is legislation that we are passing. Secondary legislation is as important and pertinent as the primary legislation itself. It states that the application form will be delivered to the student when eligibility has been secured. That means that one follows the other; the forms are not simultaneously filled in by the student. The student does not receive an application form until he or she has secured eligibility and a certificate to prove it.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, as I have said, the university or college to which a student goes will, as soon as the student registers, issue a certificate of eligibility. The student can then fill in the form--which will give the student plenty of time; it will be done more or less simultaneously--to acquire a loan within the 30 days which are stipulated in the regulations. I commend the regulations to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Education (Student Loans) (Scotland) Regulations 1998

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17th July be approved [42nd Report from the Joint Committee].--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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