Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 (THEA 1998) makes provision for student support in England and Wales.
The powers to make provision for financial support of students are set out in section 22 of THEA 1998. Most of the functions of the Secretary of State under this section have been transferred to the Welsh Ministers. The Secretary of State, however, retains some responsibility for making specific provisions in relation to Wales. For example the Secretary of State retains power to make provision modifying any enactment or instrument in connection with calculating student finance. Functions under section 22(2)(a), (c) and (k) of THEA 1998 are exercisable concurrently by the Welsh Ministers and the Secretary of State.
Section 22 of the 1998 Act provides for the Welsh Ministers to make regulations which authorize or require the Welsh Ministers to make grants or loans to students undertaking such courses which are designated by or under those regulations.
Various higher education student support regulations are made by the Welsh Ministers each year under section 22 of the 1998 Act and relate to both undergraduate and postgraduate higher education courses. Section 22 regulations currently in force - see, for example, the Education (Student Support) (Wales) Regulations 2018 (ESSWR 2018) - provide that, in order to receive student support from the Welsh Ministers a student must satisfy certain eligibility criteria (e.g. the student is ordinarily resident in Wales) and that student must also be undertaking a course of higher education which is designated by or under those regulations.
For instance, ESSWR 2018 provide that (amongst others):
• full-time higher education courses which fall within condition 1 of regulation 6 and which are provided by Welsh regulated institutions or provided by a charity on behalf of a Welsh regulated institution (under franchise arrangements) are designated for the purposes of tuition fee and maintenance support from the Welsh Ministers; and
• part-time higher education courses which fall within condition 1 of regulation 6 and which are provided by publicly-funded institutions are also designated for the purposes of tuition fee and maintenance support from the Welsh Ministers.
Students must meet the relevant requirements set out in ESSWR 2018 to qualify for particular types of financial support. The criteria for eligibility for the different loans and grants are complex and the regulations should be consulted to determine any individual case. Generally speaking, UK or EU nationals who are taking a designated course and are ordinarily resident in Wales will be eligible for some support to meet the fees for their course and to contribute to their living costs.
Students undertaking designated courses at institutions in Wales which are not Welsh regulated institutions are eligible to apply for the same support towards living costs as students undertaking designated courses at regulated institutions. In addition, they may be eligible for a loan towards their tuition fees up to a maximum of £6,165 per academic year but will not be eligible for any grant towards their fees.
Section 23 of THEA 1998 allows the Welsh Ministers to transfer or delegate any function exercisable by them by virtue of regulations made under section 22 to another body. The Welsh Ministers have exercised this function to delegate some functions relating to student support to the Student Loans Company.
In addition to the main student support regulations there are other regulations made under section 22 of THEA 1998 that relate to support to be provided to students undertaking particular types of higher education.