Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual

5.9.3 Care Leavers Financial Entitlements - Higher Education Bursary

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in August 2015 and should be re-read.


Contents

  1. Policy
  2. Legal Documents
  3. Practice Guidance


1. Policy

The purpose of this policy is to outline the Council's payment of the Higher Education Bursary to care leavers.

This document forms part of the Care Leavers Transition Procedures. In particular the policy should be read in conjunction with the Pathway Planning Procedure and Children in Care and Leaving Care Financial Policy, which outline the broader scheme of support for care leavers.

The bursary has been introduced by the Government to ensure that Former Relevant children who go on to higher education receive additional financial support from local authorities to address the financial disadvantage they face as a result of the lack of family support. It followed widespread support in response to the Care Matters White Paper (which became law in the Children and Young Person’s Act. 2008) to address financial disadvantage that students from care backgrounds face.


2. Legal Documents

The Children Act 1989 (Higher Education Bursary)(England) Regulations 2009

Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

Children and Young Persons Act 2008

Care Standards Act 2000

Care Leavers Regulations 2010

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations:
Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers


3. Practice Guidance

The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 added a new duty to pay a higher education bursary to a former relevant child who pursues higher education in accordance with their pathway plan. This bursary is payable in addition to financial assistance. The Children Act 1989 (Higher Education Bursary) Regulations 2009 make provision for the payment of the bursary by a local authority in England to a former relevant child who is pursuing a course of higher education started on or after 1st September 2008.

Regulation 2 prescribes that the bursary is £2000.

Regulation 3 defines higher education by reference to the courses designated as higher education courses by Regulations made under section 22 of the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998. Which include first degree and equivalent higher education qualifications, both full-time and part-time courses and some courses delivered by distance learning. The new duty applies to any course that lasts for at least two academic years.

Regulation 4 provides for the payment of the bursary to any former relevant child who has embarked on a course of higher education since 1st September 2008. It is for the authority to decide, after consultation with the former relevant child, whether to pay the bursary as a lump sum or by instalments.

If the bursary is to be paid as a lump sum, it must be paid at the start of the course. If it is to be paid by instalments, it is up to the authority to decide, after consultation with the former relevant child, the amount and timing of each payment, as well as the total number of payments. The only restriction is that the final instalment must be paid before the end of the last year of the course or at the start of the fourth year of the course, whichever is the earlier.

The £2,000 bursary is a minimum amount which is over and above any money and support that young people are entitled to under Section 23C(4) of the 1989 Children Act, or which local authorities already provide for care leavers who pursue a course of higher education. It must not be in place of existing support.

The Regulations provide for the withholding of payments of any unpaid balance of the higher education bursary during any period when the care leaver is not pursuing higher education in accordance with their Pathway Plan.

If there is any dispute about attendance, the Personal Advisor will ask the care leaver to provide a letter of attendance from the Higher Education Institution. Where the care leaver has not been attending their course in accordance with their pathway plan, the Personal Advisor will make a decision about withholding payment of any unpaid balance of the bursary in discussion with the appropriate manager. 

Only one bursary is available for each former relevant child. In the case of a care leaver changing to another designated course, they will only be paid the remainder of the balance of the £2000 bursary.

In the case of a care leaver changing to a non-designated course, they will not receive the remainder of the bursary. 

In cases where payment has been made by mistake to a care leaver who was not eligible for a payment, the Leaving Care Service will seek advice from Legal Services about taking action to recover the payment.

If the young person is a former relevant child he or she is eligible for the bursary provided he or she is not appeals rights exhausted. If this is the case the local authority should not treat a UASC any differently to any other former relevant child.

End