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Youngsters get preview of student life

PUBLISHED: 07:15 22 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:03 22 October 2010

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Thousands of Norfolk youngsters got the chance yesterday to size up if student life was for them, as ministers urged wannabe undergraduates to sort out their finances by the end of the month.

Thousands of Norfolk youngsters got the chance yesterday to size up if student life was for them, as ministers urged wannabe undergraduates to sort out their finances by the end of the month.

Sixth formers from 30 Norfolk high schools were at the UEA Sportspark for a higher education convention attended by more than 100 universities and colleges, including Norwich City College and Yarmouth College.

The event came as a poll due out today warns that one in four state school sixth-formers say they are less likely to go to university because of tuition fees.

From September 2006, universities and colleges offering higher education courses in England can charge up to £3,000 per year in tuition fees to all new students.

Students can apply for loans to cover tuition fees and living costs, and under new rules these only have to be repaid when students have left their course and are earning over £15,000 per year. New students from lower income households can also apply for non-repayable grants of up to £2,700 and with further financial support from universities and colleges available in the form of non-repayable bursaries.

Research from the new Target 10,000 group, which wants to boost the number of students from low families, found 95pc of Year 12 state school students knew "little or nothing at all" about the grants and bursaries which will be available if they go to university.

And 27pc said they were less likely to go to university because of tuition fees.

Meanwhile higher education minister Bill Rammell urged those starting university in September to sort out their loan applications to cover tuition fees by June 30. And he said the new system was fairer.

“In particular students don't pay a penny for fees or loans until they're in work and earning more than £15,000,” he said. “That means on a salary of £18,000 per year they would pay £5.19 per week.”

“I urge students to submit their applications now to ensure they start their first term with the best possible financial support available to them,” he said.

Yesterday's event was jointly organised by careers advisors Connexions, the University of East Anglia (UEA) and UCAS.

Matthew Cunningham, from Connexions Norfolk, said: “Once they have got to this stage, they have normally decided to study. This is about helping them find their course. The convention gives budding students the chance to meet with higher education institutions from all over the country, and to get all the advice and information they need at one event.”

Jon Beard, UEA's director of access and admissions, said the university was working hard to get more people into higher education.

“The new funding system means that no-one will pay anything towards tuition fees until they are earning a graduate level salary, and we estimate that around half of our students will be eligible for some financial help towards the cost of their degree.”

For more information on higher education options log on to www.cnxsnfk.co.uk and click on to the “Choices” link.


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