Non-critical-degree students ineligible for income support
A JERSEY-BASED psychology and criminology degree will not be added to a Critical Skills list – meaning that students on the course will not be able to access income support.
Deputy Jeremy Maçon, the assistant minister for Health, Education and Social Security, was responding to an online petition lodged by mature students.
The ‘low-income’ students had secured places on the degree course at University College Jersey but, because the degree is not on the Critical Skills list, they will not be eligible for income support while studying and will have to find work.
Deputy Geoff Southern has lodged a proposition asking for the rules to be changed so students on both the psychology and criminology degree and the childhood studies foundation degree course do not have to be ‘actively seeking work’ to get their income support.
Almost 500 people have signed the petition calling for financial support to be extended to other degrees.
Courses currently on the Critical Skills list are the Jersey graduate teacher training programme, social work, nursing and access to science (nursing).
Deputy Maçon explained that additional courses could be considered for the list, but only if ministers or professional bodies recommended that the qualification would meet a critical need in Jersey’s job market.
He said: ‘Following requests from students, officers were instructed to review the Highlands psychology with criminology degree to see whether it could be added to the Critical Skills list.
‘It was determined that, although those who graduate from the programme will be equipped with skills that would be beneficial to a career in mental health, a degree dedicated to mental health would still be required to work in this field. Therefore, the programme does not meet the criteria to be added to the Critical Skills list.
‘I understand that the situation will be disappointing to some mature students, but I would encourage them to take advantage of other options to further their careers. We offer some short courses for registered jobseekers through Back to Work, which could help Islanders to access a chosen industry, and it is also possible for those on income support to study part-time or evening courses, such as Open University qualifications, alongside paid work.
‘Mature students may also be eligible for course fees and maintenance grants through Student Finance, or through a bursary or educational grant, which could help them to complete a qualification that isn’t on the Critical Skills list.’