29 March 2018
We have been talking with your Executive Officers from the Students’ Union about the planned changes to bursaries next year for students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. Attracting and supporting a diverse student population is an important part of what makes Queen Mary special, and we understand the anxiety caused by the proposed changes to bursaries.
We have considered our own research about the impact of bursaries, which shows they have the greatest impact on the most financially disadvantaged students, and national evidence that shows bursaries are not always the best way to support students. We have also to respond to the guidance from the Office for Fair Access, to whom we report about our widening participation activities and expenditure. Their guidance, informed by research, recommends funding other forms of support for students, alongside bursaries.
Our planned changes to bursaries are described here. These changes mean that students who come from families with an annual household income of £15,000 or below will receive an increased bursary. This benefits over 30 per cent of our home undergraduate students. Students who come from families with an annual household income of above £15,000 will receive a reduced bursary, and we have reduced the upper boundary or threshold for those who can receive a bursary, from an annual household income of £42,000 to £30,000.
We have also committed to setting up an additional financial assistance fund of £200,000 to support any students who are adversely affected by the changes, and will agree how that fund operates with the Students’ Union. Next year, we will monitor closely the impact of the changes and we will also, jointly with the Students’ Union, commission a piece of research to review the evidence about the impact of bursaries across a range of comparable institutions, as well as looking further at evidence of the local impact here at Queen Mary.
Please note that bursaries for students who are already with us will remain unchanged.
These are important discussions: approximately £1,000 of every home university fee we collect is used for widening participation purposes, and the vast majority (over 80 per cent) of that money is paid to students in bursaries. I would like to thank the Executive Officers for their continued hard work to help us ensure we use these funds as effectively as possible to support our students.
Chief Operating Officer