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Welsh Assembly Short-Changes Students
STUDENTS IN Wales will greet the recent announcement by the Labour-Liberal administration in the Welsh Assembly that they are restoring grants as a partial victory for their campaigning for "Grants not Fees".
However, closer examination of the details of the package shows that very few students in Wales will benefit from the changes and they fall far short of even the Rees Report recommendations.
The Lab-Lib majority in the Assembly is promising 'learning grants' from £800 to £1,500 for Welsh students with proof of three-year residency in Wales. This sum will barely cover the cost of tuition fees, let alone living costs and will be means tested.
No student whose parents earn jointly more than £15,000 will get anything and for those who are eligible, the grant will only start at £800, less than a year's tuition fees. A student whose parents both earn just the minimum wage could well receive nothing at all from the Welsh Assembly!
Scandalously, the Assembly has refused to carry out one of the key proposals of the Rees Report - to call on the UK government to abolish tuition fees.
ANDREW LAST, Swansea University Socialist Students Organiser said:
"These proposals will make hardly any difference to the present level of student debt.
"In truth it will just aggravate the situation because students will see it as a cynical attempt by politicians to give the impression they are doing something about student poverty.
"Along with myself, from Essex, the vast majority of students in Wales will not even be entitled to this measly sum because we haven't resided in Wales for the required three years. For those very poor Welsh students who will be eligible, a grant of £800-£1,500 a year will mean very little when you still have loan debts of up to £14,000.
"Nonetheless, now that there's been a crack in the government's position, students from Wales and all parts of the UK should step up the campaign to scrap fees and restore grants for everyone".
In The Socialist 15 February 2002: