Anglia Ruskin Students’ Union’s position regarding the September 2014 Books Plus card.
Anglia Ruskin University charges more than £6000 per year for tuition fees and they are required, by the Government, to have an ‘Access Agreement’. An Access Agreement describes how Anglia Ruskin will both support students during their studies and also encourage students from a broad range of backgrounds to attend Anglia Ruskin.
Anglia Ruskin’s 2014-15 Access Agreement is a public document and is available on the Office For Fair Access (OFFA) website here.
Universities, including Anglia Ruskin, recognise that one of the barriers that could deter students from attending University is the prospect of leaving with a large amount of debt. To combat this, Universities can offer some students, specifically those from less privileged backgrounds, fee waivers – a reduction in the cost of their tuition. Another barrier is affordability once at University; simply will a student have enough money to get through their degree. To combat this Universities offer bursaries to students. Both fee waivers and bursaries are means tested and Universities will look at your family income to determine whether or not you’re eligible.
Since higher fees were introduced in September 2012 Anglia Ruskin has charged students a maximum of £8549 per year (£8300 in the first year rising with inflation to £8549 when students move into the 2nd year). However as a result of this there simply hasn’t been enough money left over to offer all students bursaries greater than £100. Some students have received more than £100 bursary and this is based on their family income.
Due to the way Higher Education in the UK is now funded, most Universities have little choice but to charge the maximum amount of £9000 just to cover costs. New students on full-time courses starting at Anglia Ruskin in September 2014 will be charged £9000 per year for tuition. However this increase in fees has meant Anglia Ruskin can afford to give all new students a £400 John Smiths card (now called a Books Plus card) which they can spend on books, sport, societies and other forms of engagement. Students from less privileged backgrounds will still be eligible to receive more financial support and this will be means tested.
We, the Students’ Union, have been involved in every possible discussion with the University to ensure that Anglia Ruskin students get the best deal available to them. For current 2012 and 2013 starters this has meant a £100 bursary and fees of £8549. For students starting in September this means a £400 bursary and £9000 fees. Our preference will always be to make sure money is going back into students’ pockets instead of towards fee waivers. We feel this is the best way to support students whilst at University and ensure they stay the course and graduate.
We always work in the best interests of students but we understand that some current 1st and 2nd year students may feel that this move is unfair. We ask you to consider the position you are in; paying up to £2100 less during your course than students starting in September and receiving a minimum of £300 during that time to spend in John Smith’s bookshop. We can assure you that this was the best deal available in 2012 and 2013.
For students who have expressed that they are struggling financially with the £100 bursary we ask you to make an appointment at the Money Advice Service
in Student Services. They can offer advice on money management as well as any benefits you may be entitled to.
*this article has been updated on the 14th August when we received confirmation about a 3% increase to fees for 2012 and 2013 starters who are now in their 2nd and 3rd years respectively.