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Better access to universities

St Austell A-level studentsMore students in Cornwall will be entitled to maintenance grants under a UK wide £400 million boost to the higher education support system announced by the Government last week.

Universities Minister John Denham said from 2008 two thirds of students will receive a maintenance grant, compared to just over half now.

A third of students will get a full grant, compared to 29 per cent now, and a further third will get a partial grant, compared to 22 per cent today.

This news comes on the back of Cornwall College St Austell's announcement that 81 per cent of students from its sixth form centre have accepted places at universities. The St Austell students have received offers from up to six universities each, confirming reports that more students are pursuing higher education.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said: "I want every individual who has the potential and qualifications to succeed in higher education to be given the opportunity to participate, whatever their family background.

"No one should be held back from realising their potential by fears that they will not be able to afford to go to university or that they will graduate with unmanageable levels of debt.

"These changes, giving more financial support to those who want to learn and improve their skills, will help even more young people fulfil their ambitions for a university education."

The new developments mean more students will receive full grants worth £2,825 and from September next year, full grants will be available to new students from families with incomes of up to £25,000, compared with £18,360. The government has also announced that students starting their higher education course next year will be entitled to take a break, for up to five years, from their loan repayments to help meet the costs of buying a home or starting a family.

Glynis Kelly senior tutor at the college said: "This is fabulous news, students will have better access to grants and their student loan repayments will be more flexible. I hope that this makes university an easier choice for some individuals.

"I agree that no one should be held back; I think that cost is increasingly seen as a barrier to some very able and talented students. At St Austell we are striving to make students and their parents understand that a university level education should be a realistic ambition, not a 'pie in the sky' dream."

Cornwall College St Austell offers A-levels in 40 subjects and is raising its game to give its students better access to higher education. The college is forging links across the higher education sector; the college recently played host to the Vice Chancellor of one of the world's top universities, the University of Oxford's Dr John Hood and Derek Denby, one of the country's leading academic chemists.

John Latham, Principal of Cornwall College said: "Our own degree level courses are enjoying unprecedented levels of applicants, our latest figures are showing a 7 per cent increase on last year and if these developments allow even more students access to higher education, then they are welcomed.

"University level education has never been so important and I think it's widely recognised that to become a 'world leader in skills,' the country must aim for at least 40 per cent of adults to have higher level qualifications by the year 2020, and with the hard work and increasing levels of performance we are achieving here, Cornwall College is a good place for any student to start."

Most of Cornwall College's higher education courses are approved by the University of Plymouth through the Combined Universities in Cornwall Initiative (CUC), an initiative invested in through the Objective One European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Cornwall College also has a partnership with the University of Exeter. The scheme, South West Access to Exeter offers bursary support to applicants from partner colleges. This scheme also offers up to 70 top-up awards, each worth an additional £2,000 per year on top of the Access to Exeter Bursary. Priority is given to students with low household incomes.

For further information please contact Ruth Sparkes by email at

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Cornwall College is a partner of the CUC.


Editor's notes:



Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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