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Tuition fees plan funding ‘sustainable’

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PLANS to fund higher education could leave the government with a £2.5 million shortfall if States Members cannot agree on long-term measures.

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Treasury Minister Alan Maclean made the comments in the States this week while responding to a question from Senator Sarah Ferguson, who described proposed arrangements as ‘woolly’.

Last week, it was announced that ministers were considering phasing out a £2,000 tax break for families with children at university, aimed at raising £3.5 million for the government to fund the scheme.

However, if approved, the measure is unlikely to be imposed until 2020 and underspends from States budgets are due to be used until then.

Responding to Senator Ferguson, the Treasury Minister said: ‘With the greatest of respect to the senator there is nothing woolly at all – I have been absolutely clear.

‘The use of underspends is a short-term measure and I have been clear that is exactly what it is being used in 2018 and 2019.

‘This is the only way we can manage the additional costs of this much-needed higher education proposal to allow our students additional funding for September 2018.’

Senator Maclean added that it would have been impossible to introduce a funding scheme any earlier and that Islanders would have been kept waiting until 2019 if a student-loan scheme was introduced.

He also said that any measures would be incorporated into the Medium Term Financial Plan.

‘I can say today from the figures I have seen that I am comfortable that what is being proposed for higher education funding is sustainable in the long-term and I would be very disappointed if members disagreed with that but it will be a matter for the Assembly when it is debated.’

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