I am aware that many people, including students, are facing challenges as a result of the rise in the cost of living. As such, I welcome that upfront loans are available as a contribution towards students' living costs while attending university with the most support available for students from the lowest income backgrounds.
I understand that maximum grants and loans for living costs were increased by 3.1 per cent for the 2021-22 academic year, and the Department for Education has confirmed that they have been increased by a further 2.3 per cent for the 2022-23 academic year. This represents the largest ever amount of support in cash terms. The Government has also confirmed that loans and grants to support undergraduate and postgraduate students with living and other costs will be increased by 2.8 per cent for the 2023/24 academic year.
Further, the Department is freezing tuition fees until the 2024-25 academic year, which means that by 2025, maximum fees will have been frozen for seven years. The maximum level of tuition fees for a standard full-time course will therefore remain at £9,250 for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years. This will deliver better value for students and to keep the cost of higher education down.
The Government also recently announced that it will provide an additional £15 million in hardship funding this financial year so that universities can provide extra support to students that need it most. This builds on the significant £261 million that the Government has already provided to the Office for Students (OfS) for the 2022/23 academic year which universities can draw upon to boost their own hardship funds. Furthermore, I welcome that the 2022-23 financial year guidance to the OfS confirms universities will continue to be able to support students in hardship through the student premium. Advice is available from providers and from other sources online to help students manage their money while they are attending their courses.
In addition, all households will save on their energy bills through the Energy Price Guarantee and the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme discount. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are eligible for the energy bills discount.
I can assure you that the Government recognises the additional cost of living pressures that have arisen and impacted students this year. I am aware that many higher education providers have hardships funds that students can apply to for assistance.
I know that there have been calls to increase the amount available for maximum loans, grants for living and other costs for the 2022-23 academic year. These decisions of support are taken on an annual basis and are reviewed each year in light of the circumstances at the time.
The Department for Education has continued to increase living costs support with a 2.3 per cent increase for maximum loans, grants for living, and other costs for the 2022-23 academic year. I understand that students who have been awarded a loan for living costs for the 2022-23 academic year that is lower than the maximum, and whose household income for the 2022-23 academic year has dropped by at least 15 per cent compared to the income provided for their original assessment, can apply for their entitlement to be reassessed.
Going forward, maximum undergraduate loans for living costs will be increased by forecast inflation, 2.8 per cent, in 2023/24. And the same increase will apply to the maximum disabled students’ allowance for students with disabilities undertaking full-time and part-time undergraduate courses in 2023/24. Maximum grants for students with child or adult dependants who are attending full-time undergraduate courses will also increase by 2.8 per cent in 2023/24.
The Government is also increasing support for students undertaking postgraduate courses in 2023/24. Maximum loans for students starting master’s degree and doctoral degree courses from 1 August 2023 onwards will be increased by 2.8 per cent in 2023/24. And the same increase will apply to the maximum disabled students’ allowance for postgraduate students with disabilities in 2023/24.
I can assure you that I will continue to monitor this issue closely.