Student Grant Complaint Upheld
The States Complaints Board has called the Education Department’s handling of a ‘very talented’ student’s grant application ‘unjust, oppressive and improperly discriminatory’.
The department withdrew the offer of a bursary to ‘top-up’ fees for a specialised course in the expectation that a new funding scheme would be adopted – which it later was.
That grant is no longer available under the new scheme.
The student’s mum, known only as Mrs X, then complained about how the department handled the application.
Board chairman Geoffrey Crill says the student finance staff were in the wrong;
“The Department failed to apply the provisions as they existed at the time of the application. Officers had a duty to apply what was in force at that time, rather than delaying, or ‘parking’, applications to await a new scheme, which was imminent. This wasn’t fair, or reasonable. The adoption, or otherwise, of new funding provisions was a political matter and not one to be assumed by administrators whose task is to administer the provisions as they exist at any given time.”
“Mrs. X had made every effort to prepare the groundwork before her daughter embarked on auditions for a college place, in order to ensure that the course was affordable and to avoid raising her daughter’s expectations unfairly. Having secured a funding commitment, she has then had to endure months of anguish whilst shielding her daughter, who was concentrating on her GCSE exams, from the fact that the pursuit of her dream career could be prevented on financial grounds. We urge the Minister to reconsider the application urgently, in order to enable a very talented young Islander to access her studies this September”.
The Board says it has taken the unprecedented step of publishing its conclusion within a fortnight of the complaints hearing in the hope the Minister will act swiftly.