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Education

Welsh students get ‘most generous’ finance

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Kirsty Williams: Living costs must not be a barrier for students

ALL ELIGIBLE Welsh undergraduate students starting university this year will be able to apply for a new financial support package that will help address living costs.

The first of its kind in the UK, it will support students when they most need it, recognising that costs such as accommodation are the main barrier for those making the choice about whether to go to university.

The new student finance package launched by the Welsh Government is the most generous in the UK and is designed to give more help towards living costs by providing the equivalent to the National Living Wage through a mix of non-repayable grants and loans. This means students can focus on their studies rather than worry about making ends meet.

With National Student Money Week approaching (12-16 February), the Welsh Government has launched an awareness campaign to promote the benefits of university with the help of more financial support available. The campaign features “Money Monster”- a personification of money. The character’s sole purpose is to stop students getting to university, and if they do, to disrupt their student life adding unnecessary pressure.

A key element of the new student finance package is that it offers a stronger package of support for students who want to study part-time, ensuring that undergraduate full-time and part-time students have the same opportunities. Wales will be the first county in Europe to provide equivalent living costs support – in grants and loans – to full-time and part-time undergraduates, as well as post-graduates.

This has been done to encourage students from all backgrounds to enter higher education, whether they’re in full-time work, raising a family or have caring responsibilities. Part-time students will receive equivalent support on a pro-rata basis.

The latest National Income and Expenditure Survey shows that more than one third of Welsh- domiciled students have overdrafts, nearly one fifth have commercial credit and one tenth are in arrears.

The new student finance package for 2018/19 undergraduate entrants addresses these issues by easing financial barriers for students, meaning that full-time and part-time students have enough money to meet their day to day living costs while studying.

Every eligible student can claim a minimum grant of £1,000 they will not have to pay back, regardless of their household income. This is part of an overall mix of grants and loans for living costs equivalent to receiving that National Living Wage, available to every eligible student while they study.

Grants will be means-tested to support those who need them most. Students from homes with lower household income will receive the highest grant – up to £10,124 in London and £8,100 in the rest of the UK. It is likely that around a third of full-time students will be eligible for the full grant. Students who receive a smaller grant can access a loan to top up the amount they receive equivalent to the National Living Wage level.

The average household income for a dependent student in the current system is around £25,000. Under the new system such a student will receive around £7,000 a year in a grant they won’t need to pay back.

The new financial support package for Welsh students was designed following recommendations of a higher education funding review led by Professor Sir Ian Diamond. Living costs were found to be the main barrier for those making the choice about whether to go to university.

The latest figures from Welsh Government show that students in Wales spent 46% of their student income on their course and 37% on living. Housing came in at 18%.

Wales’s Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams said: “Money is clearly a very important factor when deciding when to go to university, and for those who are already studying, money is found to be a major cause for stress.

“With this in mind, we have designed a new package of support to alleviate these concerns that both parents and students share. This will allow students to focus on their studies without having to worry about how they are going to afford their day to day living costs.

“The support that Welsh students, studying anywhere in the UK, can apply for is now equivalent to the National Living Wage. In addition, most students will have no upfront costs to pay as a tuition fee loan can be taken out to cover their course.

“It is important to remember that student loans are only repayable when borrowers’ earn more than £25,000 per year. Repayments can start from as little as £30 a month.

“Living costs must not be a barrier to going to university. I want everyone who has the talent, potential and ambition to have that opportunity. Whether it’s studying full-time or combining it with your career and studying part-time, university should be an option for everyone, no matter what your background or income.”

Education

Extra investment in 21st Century Schools

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Announced £100m extra: Kirsty Williams

£100​M ​is to be invested over the next three years to accelerate the delivery of the flagship 21st Century Schools and Education programme, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams and Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan ​has said.

An extra £75m, has been allocated to the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme a major, long-term and strategic capital investment programme to modernise education infrastructure.

In addition, £30m will be released from the programme in future years for immediate investment in capital projects that will contribute to the goal of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050. This is a shared priority with Plaid Cymru.

The money will bring the total invested over the life of the programme to almost £3.8bn. The first phase of the programme will finish in 2019 having invested £1.4bn to support the rebuild and refurbishment of more than 150 schools and colleges across Wales. The second phase will see a spend of £2.3bn.

Kirsty Williams said: “Our national mission is to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence. Our 21st Century Schools and Education Programme plays a key part in this and is the largest investment in our schools and colleges since the 1960s.

“Having a comfortable, modern, fit-for-purpose environment in which to learn is vital to ensuring young people have the best possible education. This extra funding will mean that even more of our students will be able to benefit from having the best possible facilities in their schools and colleges.​”​

Eluned Morgan said: “Reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050 is a significant challenge and education is key to the success of this ambition. This means we need to invest in new Welsh medium schools and improve and increase the teaching of Welsh in English medium schools. Bringing forward this funding for immediate investment allows us to ensure there is no delay in the work to achieve this target.”

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Education

Aber hots Apple programmers’ conference

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Aberystwyth: Firmly on software development map

IOSDEVUK, the UK’s leading conference for Apple software developers, will be returning to Aberystwyth in September 2018.

Now in its eighth year, iOSDevUK is hosted by Professor Chris Price and Dr Neil Taylor from the Department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth University.

The dates for iOSDevUK 8 have been confirmed as 3-6 September 2018, with the list of speakers and themes due to be announced in the coming weeks.

Further-more, the Aberystwyth based conference has been voted one of the World’s top 10 iOS conferences for 2018, the only one in the UK, by tech website www.raywenderlich.com.

Last year’s iOSDevUK 7 saw representatives from thirty nationalities travel to the three day event at Aberystwyth, with all 200 delegate places taken.

Professor Chris Price said: “We are delighted to confirm that iOSDevUK will be returning to Aberystwyth once more this year. Over the years iOSDevUK has put Aberystwyth firmly on the software development map, and we are delighted that so many developers from around the world feel it is worth their while travelling to Aberystwyth. Indeed, for many it has become an annual pilgrimage.”

“From the outset, our aim with iOSDevUK has been to encourage creativity by sharing expertise and experiences and we are confident that this year’s conference will once again achieve this, both for our delegates and for our students who will be able to attend free of charge.”

Previous iOSDevUK gatherings have focused on the most recent developments announced by Apple and this year’s conference will be no different.

One of the features of the conference has been the end-of-conference hack which challenges delegates to work together to develop innovative and exciting applications using Apple’s latest software.

The most recent hack focused on ARKit – Apple’s latest augmented reality software, which has proved so popular in games such as Pokemon Go.
Further details about the conference will be released on the iOSDevUK website.
Organisers also plan to announce the ‘Early Bird’ offers online in April 2018, for those who want to avoid disappointment.

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Education

Night on the tiles for students

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Master ceramicist: Richard Miller speaks at Coleg Sir Gâr

A​SPIRING​ ceramicists at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Carmarthen School of Art welcomed a master craftsman from the BBC’s The Great Pottery Throw Down into college recently for a bespoke lesson in tile-making.

Richard Miller is a Surrey-based ceramicist who runs his own business, Froyle Tiles, which produces traditional, contemporary and bespoke tiles for both domestic and business environments. The company works with​ ​independent retailers as well as undertaking luxury projects in London with clients including Wagamama and BBC.

The ceramicist gave a talk to ceramics degree students on his work on the BBC show and how he grew his business.

Thomas Fisher, Carmarthen School of Art ceramics lecturer, said: “Students learned about what inspires Richard’s work and how he responds to individual, business and agency briefs.

“They really benefited from his experience of such a wide range of clients and briefs, from English heritage to modern architecture, and how he grew his business to the materials and processes used in his company.”

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