University Tuition Fee Overhaul

At present, the majority of students attending university from the Isle of Man are in the privileged position of having most of their tuition fees paid for by the taxpayer.  Some will also be receiving a means-tested maintenance grant.

Sadly, many of those students never return to the Island and therefore the Isle of Man taxpayer does not see any return for their investment.

I consider that the time has come for Isle of Man Government to expand the current student loan scheme, so that all university students take a loan for the entirety of their tuition fees.  At the end of the study period, repayments commence at a level relative to salary.  For students who return to the Island and undertake full time work, a certain proportion of the loan should be written off for every year (or whatever interval is appropriate) they are here and working.  For those who don't return, the full amount is due and payable.  There may also need to be some parental guarantee or some other security, to encourage students to engage with repayment rather than disappearing. 

Why the contribution is important

The Isle of Man taxpayer does not currently receive a great deal of return on their investment in higher education, as many students do not return to the Island after university to contribute towards our economy.  This was fine and dandy when money was not an issue, but the time has come whereby the interests of the taxpayer as a whole need to be realised.  There is already a loan system in place, and so expanding that should not be particularly costly in terms of administration etc.

by katewatson on April 27, 2017 at 01:08PM

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  • Posted by madeleine April 30, 2017 at 09:19

    Kate, I suggested a similar scheme, whereby all students were given a loan including fees and maintenance and if they returned to work full time on the island their debts were written off against their tax liability, or in the case of lower earners but in valuable posts such as nursing and teaching and social care a proportion of their debt was cleared every year until it was gone.
    It is no longer the case that students going to university have guaranteed higher incomes in more secure jobs and many young people and their families are put off my the cost of paying back thousands of pounds in debts, especially those from poor or middle income families. Even though the government pays a proportion of the fees there can still be a loan in excess of £20k + maintenance for a students aged 21 to begin life with and that puts our brightest students off going to university. This system would in part at least remove some of the worry. Please remember Scottish and EU students pay no tuition fees and receive maintenance grants too, so this is not being overly generous.
  • Posted by katewatson May 05, 2017 at 07:56

    I do t know where you get £20,000+ for maintenance loans - a maintenance grant is available for those who qualify financially, and meet the age criteria, and is not repayable. If a person doesn't qualify financially, there's a reason for that. There's a £2,500 loan required for each year of study in respect of fees but actually if that makes people more carefully consider whether university is right for them or what course they want to do, rather than going because everyone else is going and never using their degree again, then I'm okay with that. I'm paying off one such loan and it is not burdensome. To compare to Wales and Scotland is somewhat misguided, as they only fund for universities within Wales and Scotland respectively (and in Wales it's only part funding at best), clearly so that if students don't return from whence they came, they (hopefully) stay in their university town and continue contributing to the country's economy. Scotland used to fund for English universities and don't now - I wonder why?! We need to find a way to encourage students to move back to the island, and the prospect of escaping their student loans is one aspect. If graduates don't want to return, that is of course their right, but why should the IOM keep funding doctors, dentists, teachers etc. for the UK government?!
  • Posted by madeleine May 13, 2017 at 23:01

    Kate, I agree that some courses can be provided on island through the IOM University/ Business School, but are you seriously suggesting that this island can train its own doctors/dentists and specialist teachers? The maintenance grants are available to some students but parents must pay for others and make up any deficit in the actual cost of keeping students at University 52 weeks a year. In addition any University course which costs more then £9k (medicine/veterinary/science/music courses etc) has to be paid by the student or their parents. Many awards are discretionary. Many parents cannot afford to pay all they are asked to pay. I made no mention of Wales but said EU and Scottish students pay no tuition fees, true only in Scotland for Scottish students may they can get a full grant for fees pegged at only 1.2% payable once they start to earn if they go elsewhere. £20k is at the lower scale for many students completing their courses today.
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