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Stepping stone fees ruled out

The stepping stone to higher education by way of Higher National Certificate and Higher National Diploma will be exempt from student fees, the Education Minister made clear this week. Students will not have to pay if they move to a degree course from an HNC or HND taken this session.

Brian Wilson said: "This route has been particularly popular with those who have less conventional entry qualifications and those who may not wish - or many not be able - to commit themselves to degree level study at the outset. "

The Government is working on details of how to implement the transition to the financial decisions announced in July after publication of the Dearing and Garrick reports. Mr Wilson said this week (page 16) that he intended to protect students on four-year honours degree courses who otherwise might have had to pay more than students south of the border whose courses normally last only three years.

The abolition of grants and the existing forms of loan, coupled with a Pounds 1,000 tuition fee for those able to pay, is scheduled to start in session 1998-99. In response to widespread concern ministers have already conceded that students with a confirmed place for deferred entry in 1998 will not be affected by the changes.

Missing grants, page 34

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