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«HIGHER EDUCATION Student Finance - The Education (Student Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2014: Equality Analysis OCTOBER 2014 Student Finance – ...»

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HIGHER EDUCATION

Student Finance - The Education

(Student Support) (Amendment)

Regulations 2014: Equality Analysis

OCTOBER 2014

Student Finance – Student Loans Company 2015/16 Policy/Regulatory Change Programme: Equality Analysis

Contents

Contents

Introduction

1. Policy changes covered in this Equality Analysis

2. Background

3. The Evidence Base

4. Changes to the student support package for new and continuing students

Maintaining Fee Caps and Tuition Fee Loans

Changes to Grants and Loans

Eligibility for student support

Equalities Analysis

Table 1: Profile of undergraduate student support claimants by product

Maintaining Fee Caps and Tuition Fee Loans

Changes to Grants and loans for living costs

Students from low income backgrounds

Age

Gender

Ethnicity

Disability

Summary

5. Description of Regulatory Policy Changes

Changes to Disabled Students’ Allowances

6. Allowing the Secretary of State discretion to allow payments of support to certain students where they do not qualify for support due to previous study or because their Higher Education course leads to a qualification that is equivalent or lower in level (ELQ) than a previous qualification.

7. Equalities Analysis

8. Impact of allowing the Secretary of State discretion to allow payments of support to certain students

9. Introducing a Validation Condition into the Designated Courses Regulations

10. Equalities Analysis

11. Impact of Introducing a Validation Condition into the Designated Courses Regulations.......... 25

12. Allowing students who already hold an Honours Degree or higher level Higher Education qualification to apply for support for a further part-time course leading to an Honours Degree in Engineering, Technology or Computer Science

Student Finance – Student Loans Company 2015/16 Policy/Regulatory Change Programme: Equality Analysis

13. Equalities Analysis

14. Impact of changing entitlement to fee loans for a second part-time Honours Degree course in Engineering, Technology or Computer Science.

15. Summary of analysis and impact

16. Impacts covered by other Equality Impact Assessments

17. Monitoring and review

Annex 1 - Snapshot of participation in HE

Student Finance – Student Loans Company 2015/16 Policy/Regulatory Change Programme: Equality Analysis Introduction Under the Equality Act 2010, the Department, as a public authority, is legally obliged to give due regard to equality issues when making policy decisions - the public sector equality duty, also called the general equality duty. Analysing the effects on equality of these regulations through developing an equality impact assessment is one method of ensuring that thinking about equality issues is built into the policy process, and informs Ministers’ decision making.

BIS, as a public sector authority, must in the exercise of its functions, have due

regard to the need to:

• Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.

• Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

• Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

The general equality duty covers the following protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

As disadvantage in higher education is still apparent in connection to family income and economic status we will also look at the impact on individuals from lower income groups. We will use the terms protected and disadvantaged groups as well as protected characteristics. Protected groups are a reference to people with protected characteristics, and disadvantaged groups refer to low income groups.

Any queries and comments about this Equality Assessment should be addressed to:

Linda Brennan, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 1 Victoria Street, London W1H 0ET, linda.brennan@bis.gsi.gov.uk.

Student Finance – Student Loans Company 2015/16 Policy/Regulatory Change Programme: Equality Analysis

1. Policy changes covered in this Equality Analysis

1. Fee Caps and Tuition Fee Loans

2. Grants and Loans

3. No longer pay for specialist accommodation through Disabled Students Allowances other than in exceptional circumstances. This is the subject of a separate Equality Assessment.

4. Change to allow the Secretary of State discretion to allow payments of support to students where they are not eligible for support.

5. Introducing a Validation condition into the Designated Courses Regulations.

6. Changing Equivalent and Lower Qualification rules for part-time fee loans for students who already hold a Higher Education qualification and who wish to undertake another qualification in Engineering Technology or Computer Science.

7. The following changes are subject to a separate Equality Impact Assessment:





(i) The definition of disabled for Disabled Students Allowances purposes (ii) A requirement for organisations undertaking study needs assessments to register with an approved organisation in order to draw down Disabled Students Allowances funding (iii) Changes to the types of support funded through Disabled Students Allowances

2. Background The primary purpose of The Education (Student Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 is to update the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011 so that they set out the student support programme for students who are starting or continuing a designated higher education (HE) course in respect of an academic year beginning on or after 1 September 2015. Other minor amendments made by these regulations are technical and consequential changes and are therefore not included in the scope of this assessment.

The overall intention of support for living and tuition costs is to ensure that finance is not a barrier to entry into higher education. The intention is that no eligible student in England should be deterred from attending higher education on the grounds of affordability; that attendance in higher education is based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay; and that spending power is placed in the hands of students.

Student Finance – Student Loans Company 2015/16 Policy/Regulatory Change Programme: Equality Analysis

3. The Evidence Base

For this equality analysis the primary sources of data are:

• Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) student record data for all UK domiciled students at UK institutions;

• Student Loans Company (SLC) data on the characteristics of English domiciled student support recipients;

• Wider research undertaken by stakeholders.

These data sources allow us to examine the impact of the policy changes on groups with the following protected characteristics: age, ethnicity, disability and gender. We do not have specific data relating to gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, sexual orientation and religion or belief, as it has not been collected on these groups to date.

Comparisons between the Higher Education Statistics Agency and SLC data are limited due to the fact that a small proportion of borrowers who study in Further Education Colleges or private providers will not be included in the Higher Education Statistics Agency data, and we cannot fully assess the make-up of this student body by protected characteristic.

Higher Education Statistics Agency student record data (shown in Annex 1) points overall to diminishing inequalities in Higher Education and higher representation from some previously under-represented groups. Evidence about participation in higher education does seem to indicate that there is good representation from protected and disadvantaged groups such as women and minority ethnic communities; the proportion of students declaring a disability has increased; and the proportion of young people living in the most disadvantaged areas who enter higher education has increased. These groups have traditionally been under-represented in Higher Education.

To understand whether the policy changes will disproportionately affect particular

protected groups we take the following two step approach:

1. Understanding whether some groups will be disproportionately affected;

• Compare the protected characteristics profile of student support claimants to the wider Higher Education population to examine whether some groups are under, over or proportionately represented in the population of student support claimants. This allows us to check whether changes to the student support offer will fall disproportionately on a particular group.

Student Finance – Student Loans Company 2015/16 Policy/Regulatory Change Programme: Equality Analysis

• For specific changes to individual elements of the student support package we compare the protected characteristics profile of claimants of the different types of student support awards: maintenance grants, loans for living costs, Disabled Students Allowances, Childcare Grant, Adult Dependants Grant and Parent’s Learning Allowance, to that of the overall student support population.

Again this allows us to examine whether the impacts of changing individual elements of the student support package will fall disproportionately to a particular protected group within the student support population 1.

2. Nature and magnitude of the impact on individuals within a protected group;

• At the individual level seek to understand whether the impact on a student support claimant will be positive, negative or broadly neutral. Examine whether or not the nature and magnitude of the impact is similar across all protected groups.

To assess the equality implications of the changes to the student support package SLC data is used to understand the overall characteristics profile of student support claimants and for subgroups receiving specific awards 2. The full profile of English domiciled student support claimants in terms of age, ethnicity, disability and gender available from the SLC is given in Table 1, with the English-domiciled, undergraduate student profile from Higher Education Statistics Agency included for

comparison:

The profile of recipients for a particular student support award could alternatively be compared to the wider student population at UK Higher Education Institutions, as defined by the Higher Education Statistics Agency student record data. However the analysis seeks to understand whether decisions to change a specific element within the overall student support package affects some sub groups of student support population more than others. With SLC data covering more than one million students it is in itself a reasonable approximation to the full time English domiciled student population. In addition ‘within data set’ comparisons provides a more statistically robust approach to revealing whether there are differential impacts across the protected characteristics groups.

The analysis is based on the profile of student support claimants rather than recipients. Claimants are those students whose applications have been approved for payment. Therefore all data is based on awards and not actual payments. This is particularly relevant to Disabled Students Allowances where the number of students paid may be significantly less than the number whose applications were approved.

Student Finance – Student Loans Company 2015/16 Policy/Regulatory Change Programme: Equality Analysis

4. Changes to the student support package for new and continuing students Maintaining Fee Caps and Tuition Fee Loans Maximum fees and fee loans for full and part-time courses will be maintained at 2014/15 levels in 2015/16. This will mean that for courses starting on or after 1 September 2012, maximum full and part-time fees and fee loans will remain at £9,000 and £6,750 respectively in 2015/16. For full time courses starting before 1 September 2012, maximum full-time fees and fee loans will remain at £3,465 in 2015/16.

Changes to Grants and Loans

The student support package – the amount of support a student can receive from the Government towards tuition and living costs - is determined annually. For 2015/16 some elements of the support package will be maintained at 2014/15 levels and others will be increased by the rate of forecasted inflation for 2015/16 of 3.34%. The inflation measure used is RPI-X (Retail Price Index excluding mortgage interest payments). This measure excludes mortgage interest payments which most students will not be making. The figure used is based on Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) forecasts for RPI-X for the 2015 and 2016 calendar years which are used as a basis for a forecasted figure for the 2015/16 academic year. It is based on forecasts for inflation, not current inflation figures.

The package of support for 2015/16 is as follows:

• The maximum maintenance grant and special support grant for full-time students entering higher education from 1 September 2012 onwards will be maintained at the same level as for 2014/15. Students will receive £3,387 for 2015/16 if their household income is £25,000 or less. The maximum maintenance grant and special support grant for full-time students who started their courses before 1 September 2012 will similarly be maintained at 2014/15 levels. In 2015/16, they will receive £3,110 if their household income is £25,000 or less.

• The maximum loan for living costs for full-time students entering higher education from 1 September 2012 onwards will be increased by 3.34% and eligible students living away from home and studying outside London will be entitled to £5,740 for 2015/16. Maximum loans for students living away from home and studying in London will be £8,009, for students living at home, £4,565 and for students undertaking a year of overseas study, £6,820.

Student Finance – Student Loans Company 2015/16 Policy/Regulatory Change Programme: Equality Analysis



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