Aled Roberts: Student Finance figures don’t add up

November 14, 2011 9:38 AM

Aled Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Minister, has queried the latest announcement by Education Minister Leighton Andrews that he has set aside £3.6 billion to fund student support for the duration of this Assembly.

Making the announcement on National Student Finance Day, the Minister reaffirms his commitment to funding Welsh-domiciled students.

However, additional notes accompanying the Minister's announcement state:

"Due to the wide ranger of uncerainties the figures contained in this notice are only illustrative and are dependent on many underlying assumptions. The models are based on a number of assumptions around student numbers, loan take-up and fee levels. The figures provided are merely an indicatation of the likely financial consequences.

"There are also inhernt risks when producing forecasts for demand-led expenditure and changes to the behaviour of students and institutions could have a significant effect on these assumptions."

Commenting, Aled Roberts said:

"This is all very well in theory, but how does the Minister think he is going to pay for this massive hike in expenditure?

"Is this money already included in his budget - which so far has been notoriously difficult to scrutinise - and will other areas be facing cuts?

" I have to question whether spending like this is sustainable. A lot of assumptions have been made about take-up figures.

"It is also particularly disappointing that the Minister has, yet again, chosen to make his announcement outside the Assembly, giving Members no opportunity to properly scrutinise the decision and its implications."

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