Our university fees system is open to abuse, says minister

THE way in which university grants are awarded to students from Jersey has to change because the system is open to abuse, the Education Minister has said.

Education Minister Patrick Ryan
Education Minister Patrick Ryan

THE way in which university grants are awarded to students from Jersey has to change because the system is open to abuse, the Education Minister has said.

From this September, Deputy Patrick Ryan wants grants to be calculated in relation to the total income of the household where the student lives, as opposed to just the income of a separated parent the student lives with.

The change, which would save the States up to £500,000 a year, could see new partners or step-parents forced to contribute towards university fees.

The minister's comments come ahead of a States debate next week after St Clement Deputy Gerard Baudains lodged a proposition to try to block the new rules coming into force.

Comments for: "Our university fees system is open to abuse, says minister"

Granted

A number of years ago, my friend's son dropped out of Uni for one year, going back the following year. My friend was self-employed at the time. As it happened, the year for which his income was assessed, which had moved by 1 year due to the drop-out year, he had next to no income as he had taken a year away from work. His son's dropping out for that particular year saved him £10,000.

I also know of a lawyer, a very wealthy man, who arranged his affairs so that he had next to no income from his business for the years where he was being assessed for his child's university years, and received a full grant for him.

So there is more needing changed than just the income assessment of separated couples.

buster

This has been going on for years, and most of the abusers have been wealthy people who could easily afford to pay their children's way, but prefer to make the tax payer pick up the bill. To my mind, as bad, if not worse, than a benefit cheat.

The losers are married parents who between them earn just enough to take them above the ceiling, and end up paying for everything.

Maria

your not kidding,me and my wife both work , not massive pay and we know a couple that have split up and we pay double what they pay and they get paid double what we get paid ,roll on when she finishes,although im very proud of her,im looking forward to having a life after her final year,its cost us over £30,000 and yes she does understand what we have given up for her

Smoo

You should be very proud of yourselves. I think that your daughter will appreciate everything you have done for her. Can the same be said about your friends, whilst hey maybe proud of their childs achievement what they are infact teaching them is that it is OK to abuse the system. Honesty is always the best policy.

Mo

Totally agree "GRANTED" they give to the rich, these rich people can their accountant to be creative with their income. I know of someone who like myself worked hard and applied to some assistance to see his daughter through Uni he was rejected but I can tell you now his income was of the average so I also believe its not what you know, it's who you know.....

Funnily enough the same rule of thumb applies to income tax returns fees for kids some get it other don't .... it should be the same across the board....

BORIS

So many grants and allowances are open to abuse on the island and always have been. From University allowances to Health allowances!

Carly

Wow, is it free to attend uni then? I did not know this and my parent's think they have to pay for my uni fees. Tell me more and how I can get it for free please ??

the thin wallet

so the system wants to make young people who have had to deal with the break up of the family unit fight to get a better education, or the ones who have had to deal with the untimley death of a parent.

young people are our future .

how many loose out , from the £500,000 saved ( got to see it to believe it)

this is a figure that was given to departing , not worth the money civil servants .

talk about clutching at straws.

Grammar Panda

It's 'lose' not 'loose'.

the thin wallet

i am well aware of my gramatical short commings grammar panda .

yet happy that i can saw a straight line with a handsaw .

however i will endeavour to improve and may ask the wife a bit more often on my poor spelling.

i also wish i had had latin beaten into me with stick , some days .

John

Jersey needs to have an actually thought through education policy.

The point of higher education is to invest in students to help with the economy of the Future. Jersey can not even do that! Students who go to university do not want to come back! So the students have roughly £50,000 spent on them and no return on the investment? Surely this is abuse of the system????

The education policy should be broken down into two entities.

One education policy should be grant, which allows students to go to university for free BUT with condition, they must come back to the island for a minimum of 5 years after graduation. They get free education and put money back into the local economy win win.

Second education policy should be a loan, we should not deter bright students going to university just because they may not want to live here.

I am currently at university and the fact that I see students doing degree such as marketing, drama, and acting. These students who get free education have made it clear that they have NO intentions of coming back to the island. Unfortunately, we do live in hard times so Jersey should short list the degree subjects in will support, Jersey is not like the UK and should stop trying embrace people's passion because reality is Jersey is no silicon valley.

:/ I just find it sad in Jersey we talk about the abuse of the system, and in the UK they talk about trying to get poor students to top universities, how many students in Jersey go to top universities? :/ Less than 10% Talk about 'world class education system' @ locator Jersey.

Scrutineer

There is a lot of sense here, although inevitably one can argue about the solution. There is little point paying large grants of Jersey money to people who want to do degrees that are of little use to the community or to themselves.

SB

Simply make all student funding loan based but make the capital/interest on the repayments jersey income tax deductable at 400%.

Thus if they return to jersey it will work as a defacto grant over time, if not its a loan.

Simples?

Smoo

I have a friend who came from a low income family and went to university. He wanted to teach. Not once did the education department contact him to enquire how the tax payers money was spent. Nor did they contact him at the end of his degree to enquire how he did. He did apply for jobs over here but was not successful as there were candidates with better experience, not one was a local, who ended up getting those positions. He is now working in Edinburgh for a secondary school and is really glad he ended up moving away. Every time I speak to him he says that Jersey eats up at you and takes all it can but nothing is very reciprocated.

SB

Well thats the first time i've heard of providing someone with a no strings attached grant for 3 years without asking for anything in return described as "eating you up and taking it all"

Perhaps you could remind your friend of the massive student debt he would be in should he happen to have been born and raised in the uk?

The fact that your friend clearly also expected a guaranteed job to be provided at the end of it just speaks volumes about how the modern generation in this island live in cloud cuckoo land.

Presumably if he would have had free higher education, plus a guaranteed job for life at the end of it (at a considerable premium to what teachers in the UK earn) there would have been dissapointment that there wasn't a company ferrari and penthouse apartment provided?

Sheesh.

Renegade

It's all very well and fine saying you should have a requirement for people to come back here but firstly, what if there simply isn't a job for them to do and most importantly, how would you enforce it?

Legally speaking we can't send heavies across the pond to drag people back in chains if they graduate and decide they'd prefer to work in the UK, US or Canada for instance so any kind of system like that would be impossible to police.

The future

And to think we just gave Jersey Finance an extra 4 million which is 8 years of sending our future to university.

This will increase single parent households, more males will grow up without a role model in the house, mothers will make the choice between education for children or relationship for themselves.

My ex girlfriend had 3 bright children from a previouse relationship it would have been impossible for me to continue to pay my own maintenance and send my own children to university if I also had to pay for hers too.

It would have actually made financial sense to stop working completely.

James Wiley

Any system is open to 'abuse', it is not really abuse though, is it? It is simply using the rules to the best personal advantage.

So you have two choices

1) Have no system whatsoever and everyone can make whatever arrangements they see fit. They will also have more money to do it with as they will not be giving money to the States of Jersey.

or

2) Realise that educating our children is the highest priority and just get on with it.

£500,000 per year, am I to assume then that our taxes will be reduced by this amount? No I am to assume that it will be spent on another less important matter and that our taxes will be increased in any case.

On balance I think I prefer option 1. No taxes and no assistance for anyone.

As it stands if this goes through I will simply move out of my partners house whilst her children go to university and go and live with my mum. Or is that abuse of the system too?

Ella

"Realise that educating our children is the highest priority and just get on with it."

If you mean up to the age of 18 then I totally agree. If you mean after 18 then I don't agree with your statement.

We should encourage those who study subjects that are worthwhile. They're easy to identify because they are usually referred to as the difficult subjects. Some degrees, those fast becoming the most popular amongst Jersey children, are of no use to anyone and are merely a way for children to leave the rock for a few years at others' expense.

No-one forces children to go to University, it is not mandatory, and so the taxpayer should only pay for it in certain circumstances. Also since your expected income is meant to be higher when you have a degree, why should those who cannot go to university (for whatever reason) pay for your education when you will then have a higher salary than they can expect to receive?

Overpopulated

In the UK most students have to borrow to fund their studies, why cannot Jersey students do the same?

SB

or have a list of "approved" courses which attact full grants for things which actually may benefit the island, and a list of courses for which no grants will be payable so the tax payer is not so overtly subsidising a 3 year party masquerading as a degree course (I am sure there used to be a degree offered in kite flying by some valted institution?)

Cameron sexypants

Because we have to pay 3 times as much as UK students because we are stupidly classed as international students

Ella

We ARE 'international' as far as the English taxpayer is concerned.

If we had our own institution of higher education that children from England wished to study at then it is possible England would enter into a mutual agreement with us (as they do with other countries), but we don't.

People choose to raise their kids here knowing that there is no university on the island. They obviously consider themselves to have it better here overall, otherwise they would leave.

Andy

This has been happening for years .....something too they should look at is the courses the students are undertaking....a course like maths/physics should receive more than say media studies.

La Moye Squirrel

Absolutely, Andy. We need to see if the course is viable for industry, commerce or the better good of the peoople. The time when it was believed that everyone should go to university has gone. When I left school only ten per cent went and those were to the old red brick unis where they taught solid degrees. Everyone else was trained up either at tech college or on the job. Employers took on young people and they started at the bottom and worked their way up through something called 'graft'.

Mrs B

But times have changed Squirrel. I left school in the late 70s with O Levels and got a job that now requires a degree. The only change with the job is that they now use computers whilst we had to do everything manually.

Ella

Very true, but we won't reverse this idiotic system by pandering to it and encouraging useless degrees. There are now many jobs for graduates specifically excluding soft degrees and I imagine that will be a growing trend.

Jersey could choose to put the onus back on apprenticeships or 'working your way up' while still encouraging university for those subjects that clearly require years at university.

SB

Makes sense, although given some of our politicians propensity for spin I suspect your example of media studies would probably be tapped to receive full funding!!

sporran

He shuold be giving student loans rather than grants.

Nellie

One problem I can foresee is if the new partner refuses to pay - it's all very well saying their income has to be taken into consideration but if they refuse to contribute you're back to a single parent having to fund the total cost which often will be impossible.

It's almost impossible to force a separated/divorced parent to contribute to a child's uni education if they refuse as it is (the court can rule as it wishes but if the parent won't pay it's practically impossible to get the funding from them)and that's the child's actual parent who should be interested in helping them to get a good start in life - if natural parents won't contribute, what are the chances of getting step-parents / live in partners to contribute finacially to the education of a child that isn't their own?

Currently you can appeal to an Education panel and sometimes they will give a child a grant if they appreciate the impossibility of making the other partner contribute financially. Under Sean Power's proposal I cannot see there would be any room for manoeuvre. The current level of a student loan would not cover uni fees.

It's all very well to say the wealthy should pay but in practice it's usually middle Jersey that ends up being penalised and losing out when recharging structures are introduced.

sebsky

Parents not partners should be responsible for their own children. It is possible new partners will have children of their own from previous relationships so this is only fair. Also I hope that ASSETS and not just earnings are taken into account when these assessments are made. I am aware of several local families who own substantial properties, yet have incomes below the threshold and are therefore eligible for grants. This must be fully ivestigated and should be stopped.

Cameron sexypants

Why don't they just sort out the retarded 'international student' bullcrap with the UK uni's instead? My tuition was 9grand whereas all my uni mates was 3 grand because I was 'international'. Sort out some agreement and u wouldn't have to pay out as much for grants durrrrp

Ella

It couldn't work like that, Jersey would have to have something to offer the UK in return. That could only be money, and no doubt from the taxpayer.

As a taxpayer I am not willing to contribute towards other people's degrees when I paid for my own.

Kev

This is completely ridiculous. Why would a man that played a part in breaking up my family now want to/even consider pay for my education? Patrick Ryan you need a slap!

jerseyfiggard

A good quality university degree is an opportunity for a good foundation in life. The very idea of limiting the choice of degree based on whether the subject matter is appropriate or not is a complete draconian nonsense. Firstly we sponsor this society for its defence of our ability to provide freedom of choice and secondly, no matter what degree you obtain, the core skills in terms of time management and organisational skills plus the confidence from making presentations and statistics are invaluable to employers.

The cost is the particularly problematic issue and at the moment (and in living memory) we have been paying three times the amount that UK students pay for fees. This is because we are classed as 'overseas' students; another complete nonsense. Currently, we are paying three times the amount of money for our children to provide the uk government with their ideas at the most creative times in their lives. If they then wish to further their interest Jersey cannot afford to pay for the post graduate qualifications (which is when university study becomes useful in anyway beyond the skills mentioned above) as we are effectively bankrupted by the cost of sending them to complete their first degree.

Most of the people from lower earning families cannot actually afford to send their children to university and this is an omnipresent sign of the times in terms of the imbalance in favour of the wealthy.

What we should do, since Universitys are effectively money making institutions, is create a University of the Channel Islands. The students that we would teach would create jobs and give us a 'tourist' season of approximately 9 months that would give us the summer off. Those students would have the opportunity to leave Britain whilst at the same time not having to learn a foreign language and would benefit from all of the features that we are able to offer (watersports, angling, trips to france etc). Furthermore, as a university is a research and development institution, we would be investing in an organisation that could pay its way quite adequately. The creation of a university at the current time, without the limiting factor of tradition should afford us the opportunity to create a streamlined money making organisation in terms of the research that is turned out. Finally, students demand a lower cost of living and are a high disposable income social group so their effect on the island would most likely act to lower the cost of living.

The real benefit to the islanders of course, is that they would, no matter how much they earn, be able to send their children to a university.

CI Uni

Yep totally agree, use the Fort site, perfect place.

uni_b4

The importance of a student grant cannot be underestimated.

The average student is currently leaving University somewhere in the region of twenty thousand pounds in debt.

Undoubtedly this 'helps' them into the credit society and forces them to 'get' work at the same time, whilst making certain that the children of the wealthy are better off, generally leaving with less debt.

A friend of mine at university came from a wealthy family. His father bought a house in the area so that he could live for free. The rental value paid his living costs and the fees were offset by the profit from developing and restoring the property. Fine if you've got the capital.

The same year the UK dispensed with student grants, Tony Blair gave the exact same amount as was invested in student grants the previous year to President Suharto of Indonesia to by ex-UK military Jets.

Please don't saddle our students with debt in their first working years.

the future

Go all the way give tax releif for unmarried couples too and let them be treated by the establishment poperly as equals under the law or forget it.

James

Cracking point future. As a step dad (unmarried) with three step kids approaching Uni age, you've cheered me up. Spot on. I want a married person's allowance please if I have a married person's obligation.

the frenchie

Unfortunately the system is indeed open to abuse. Parents should be paying for kids uni fees as far as possible and that includes divorced parents where, more often than not, the child stays with the mother and so gets a grant as mum may not work or will be on part time salary. Meanwhile the ex husband is working and earning a decent amount and should be paying for his childs' fees but is getting away with it.

My question is why not take into consideration the joint salary of the divorced/separated parents before giving out grants?

Realist

Many won't now go to university if Patrick Ryan has his way.Expecting the child of a previous relationship to have to depend on the goodwill of a step father or step mother or a new live in partner is morally wrong.The university grant system in Jersey needs upgrading not downgrading.Parents may divorce but their children face enough trauma without being put in this position.

James

So, if I earn £100k + a year and am living as a family with my second time around gal (and have done for 8 years) who chooses to work as a part time receptionist and who has a 17 year old, you think it's fair for you as a taxpayer to contribute to my partner's kid's education? Bravo Realist!

Realist

Apparently you are unmarried to your partner, who has three children you describe as your step kids approaching uni age.(your comment in response to future#19).Yet you now say your partner has "a 17 year old"only.Which is it?

James

This latter post is an example - "if...." - rather than my full circumstances, which are as #19. One of the three is a 17 year old who is actually weighing up Uni offers, so it simply omits the other two on this occasion.

The point still stands - what say you, Realist? You happy to pay for my step kid(s) education even though I earn a small fortune every year?

Realist

James,your views may not be shared by some of those potential students who seek to make their own way in life, irrespective of what their parent's new live in partner earns.This move is wrong as it places further restrictions on an already punitive grant system.

James Wiley

Ah James, you are speaking of a time when family was valued.

Now family is the enemy of the State.

How else are they to engineer a recovery in the housing market if everyone is not encouraged to be their own household?

More couples must break up and live singly so that we can once again have a housing shortage and a booming property market.

James

Indeed, I did do that - one unhappy household became two happy ones. Property prices throughout St Brelade went through the roof. Darn it, fell for another Jersey girl and am back to one household again -happy this time, but look what's happenied to house prices since. Yes, I blame myself.

Mike

In the UK all students are able to send themselves to university, regardless of their parents' ability or willingness to support them, because they can access a student loan.

If you believe, as I do, in equality of opportunities then you ought to also agree that every child, regardless of their family circumstances (and I don't just mean how wealthy they are), should have a fair chance to 'reach the top' through a university education and that access to a loan system should therefore be a minimum fall back option for all students.

Personally, I would go much further than this and argue for a decent grants system aswell but that's another story.

A great first step however would be to negotiate non-international fees for Jersey students. I understand that there are other British offshore dependencies that are not charged international fees so why has our education department failed to secure this situation for Jersey?

CC

This is certainly something that needs to be addressed. My parents are reasonably well off, but not excessively so. They first paid for me to attend university (something I didn't help with by having to resit a year!) and then for my younger brother to go to med school. Due to their financial situation, we were not entitled to any assistance whatsoever. Please don't get me wrong, I do believe that those who have the means should not expect the tax payer to foot the bill, but one of my good friends who went to uni had a grant due to being assessed on what his (divorced) Mum earns. His Dad is incredibly wealthy and has a personal income to the tune of over double my parents combined income.

This is incredibly frustrating, but the issue was somewhat compounded by the ridiculous set-up in the UK. As an 'offshore student' and again, based on my parents income, my fees were ~£8000 per year. This in contrast to the fees of around £1400 a year for an EU student. I was born in England - I lived there until I was just over 5 years old, yet someone from the EU who has never stepped foot on British soil before is entitled to pay the same fees as a UK citizen. Galling...

Kim

I think there are a number of issues:

The first is not so much the type of course as mentioned above, but the grades required to get on the course.

Politicians aparently (and I quote)cannot be seen to be limiting a university education when the student fulfils the requirements laid down by said university.

Anyone without BBB at A level should not be going to university, I would love to see the statistics for drop out rates dependant on grades. This is what Education should be looking at. If they can prove that 80% of students with CCD A level passes, couldn't cope with their course then they have a good reason for denying funding.

I have seen parents "separate" to obtain grant funding. We are talking about up to £20,000 a year - education need to wake up, and fast, and smell the coffee!

unfair

The system is totally unfair, like most things in Jersey though!

Both (original!) parents should have to pay for the University fees as I also know of someone who received a full grant as he lived with Mum who has a low income, whilst dad is very wealthy and paid nothing!

Secondly, they really need to sort out the injustice of Jersey students paying so much more. England seem to really have it in for us at the moment.

Thirdly, I do not understand why someone who doesn't work at school can leave with no qualifications and get paid to be at home earning £90 a week in benefits. Before you start I feel for those who have no job but some (I have some in my family) never did any school work, achieved no decent grades and now sit at home playing on computers etc whilst receiving £90 a week oure spending money. I wish I had that!

Meanwhile, my children who work hard (as I encourage them to) will probably get reasonable grades and do hope to go to university. It feels like they are penalised for working hard as they will leave University with thousands of pounds of debt!

I cannot convince myself that any of this is fair. What is it telling our youngsters today?!

tracy C

Having put 2 daughters through university, the youngest graduating last year, the tuition fees for CI students on a class room based course eg teaching was approx £8500. At the time UK students and students from other countries who are part of the EU paid £3,300. Yes a student from Bermuda, Spain, France etc paid the same as UK.!!! Now that UK students have to pay their fees in full as the government have taken away the subsidies UK and EU students pay approx £9000 which means they are paying very similar amounts to CI students. At the time when I compared international fees agains CI fees there wasnt much differnce; approx £1,000 at the universities I looked at. I do wonder though if our CI fees will increase in the near future. I also strongly believe that ex partners/parent should be forced to contribute towards their childs higher education... I know a number of single Mums who have received full grants for their child and their high earning Ex paid nothing. Both my husband & I worked hard to pay for out childrens education, going without holidays etc and it seemed really unfair when you saw that the seperated families I mention above being able to afford such luxeries. If this was treated more fairly then maybe every student could be assisted, even a small grant would be helpful. It cost approx £16,000 per year to educate a child at a UK university when you consider tuition fees, rent, food, clothing,books & materials & flights. I have to say that both my girls did really well and we are very proud of them and it has been worth the struggle.