No fees, no loans plan for students considered

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The Independent Online

The government is considering a scheme whereby students in England who live at home would pay no tuition fees but would receive no state loans or other financial support either, the BBC reported today.

The idea would be to help students avoid falling into debt while they study.

The government is currently carrying out a review of tuition fees and is due to announce its findings later this year.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said the plan was speculative and might not be in its final proposals.

Currently universities can charge up to around 3,000 pounds a year in tuition fees and earlier this year university chiefs said the charges needed to rise to up to 7,000 pounds to secure long-term funding for teaching.

"It's a novel idea and hopefully it's going to attract young people and adults who haven't thought about going to university before," Maggie Scott, Assistant Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, told BBC radio.

Wes Streeting, President of the National Union of Students, said he was not convinced the proposal to live at home would appeal to students, and said the ability to choose their university and course should not be limited to those from affluent backgrounds.

"One of the biggest barriers people face today isn't actually tuition fees -- because they are not paid up front they are paid after graduation -- it's actually the spiralling costs of living so the grants, maintenance loans actually really come in handy.

"For some students who maybe want to study at home or want to study at a further education college because it's more accessible ... the sums very well could come up which is why it's probably an idea worth piloting."

Recent reports suggest that graduates will face a tough time finding jobs as the recession deepens, while the NUS said they would complete their studies with record levels of debt.