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Published 24 November 2022
© Crown copyright 2022
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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/student-support-for-higher-education-in-england-2022/student-support-for-higher-education-in-england-2022
This statistics publication presents figures and observations on the student support awarded to applicants and paid to students or their higher education provider. Figures are shown for the nine academic years up to and including 2021/22. Section 7 gives a high-level early indication of academic year 2022/23 figures, along with emerging trends of any new policy products. The publication covers applicants and students domiciled in England taking a designated higher education (HE) course at a university or further education (FE) college in the UK, as well as EU (outside UK) applicants and students taking a designated course in England.
The total amount paid out/awarded in student support across full-time, part-time and postgraduate students reduced for the first time in academic year 2021/22, from £20.3 billion. This is considerably different to the 10.7% increase noted in the previous year. Table 2
The number of students paid/awarded decreased by 0.7% to 1.5 million in academic year 2021/22, also in contrast to the 7.8% increase noted in 2020/21.
It is however possible that these decreases may be due to the fact that they are compared to an outlying year that experienced some significant increases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The average full-time Maintenance Loan paid to England-domiciled students reduced slightly (- 1.0%) from £7,080 in 2020/21, to £7,010 in academic year 2021/22.
The average Tuition Fee Loan paid on behalf of a full-time student decreased by a more significant 4.5%, from £8,710 to £8,320.
These statistics can be used as a reference to the number of students awarded/paid and the amount awarded/paid out by the Students Loans Company for students studying in higher education between academic years 2013/14 and 2021/22, along with an early view of academic year 2022/23. The data used in this publication is from Student Loans Company’s administrative systems. These systems only hold information on students who have applied for and/or receive funding. Due to this, these statistics cannot be used to analyse trends or to draw conclusions regarding the full UK student population.
The main aim of this publication is to measure payments to student support recipients funded by England over the course of each academic year. This is effectively what is paid regarding Maintenance Loans, Tuition Fee Loans, postgraduate loans, and Disabled Students Allowance (DSA).
Awards differ from payments as they refer to the amount which will be paid if the applicant’s attendance is confirmed for the full academic year. As payments refer to the actual amounts received by students, they can be lower if the student is not in attendance for the full academic year, if the applicant does not attend at all, or if they do not draw down the full amount which was awarded (e.g., they drop out mid-year). Payments within the most recent academic year, 2021/22 are provisional . Although most payments/awards are captured by this point, the figures are finalised a year later and updated in the following years’ publication.
For all new types of support an early indication of what has been paid/awarded two months into the latest academic year (in this publication 2022/23) is provided in Section 7 of the tables. The number of payments/awards made will change markedly between this point and the end of the academic year as current students will receive further payments and additional students apply for student support. There are data reporting limitations regarding separating out grant product payments by individual product. For this reason, the breakdowns of spend allocations of Maintenance Grants and other targeted support products e.g., Adult Dependant Grant and Travel Grant etc. are reported as awards.
For more detail, please click on the individual links.
2.6% decrease in higher education student support in academic year 2021/22, at £19.8 billion
£8.0 billion in full-time Maintenance Loans paid out to 1.1 million students for academic year 2021/22, a 1.1% increase on the previous year
At 1.2 million, the number of Tuition Fees Loans paid on behalf of full-time students remains relatively constant from last academic year
Following a substantial pandemic-related increase in 2020/21, academic year 2021/22 notes a 6.5% decrease in the number of Tuition Fee Loans paid on behalf of part-time students
Tuition Fee Loan take-up for accelerated degrees continues to increase in academic year 2021/22
6.3% of all loan borrowers took only a Tuition Fee Loan and opted out of Maintenance Loan support – consistent with 2020/21
An outlier pandemic-related increase in 2020/21 led to a decrease in Postgraduate Master’s Loan take-up in 2021/22
Continued increase in Postgraduate Doctoral Loan borrowers, yet amount paid out remains constant to 2020/21
Significant reduction in amount paid out in Disabled Student Allowance travel claims in academic year 2020/21, but provisional figures for 2021/22 show spend has returned to pre-pandemic levels
17.5% increase in number of Childcare Grant claims – in line with increase noted in 2020/21
By end-October 2022, a total of 1.2 million undergraduate and postgraduate students have been paid/awarded a total of £4.8 billion for AY 2022/23
Early look at the second academic year of new policy indicates continuing decline in number of EU (outside UK) students paid
Early view of academic year 2022/23 indicates a decrease in both ‘new’ and ‘returning’ students
An undergraduate Maintenance Loan is funding to help with day-to-day costs, such as rent or food, whilst studying. These loans are available to those studying an eligible undergraduate, initial teacher training or Postgraduate Certificate of Education course, at an eligible higher education provider on a full or part-time basis. The amount awarded is dependent on household income.
Academic year 2021/22 saw a small increase of just 1.1% (+ £85.5 million) in the total paid out in the form of Maintenance Loans to full-time higher education students in comparison to the previous year (to £8.0 billion). This is a considerably lower increase than noted in previous years (averaging 14.7% since academic year 2016/17). Table 3A
The number of students in receipt of the loan increased by 24,100 students (+ 2.2%) to 1.1 million.
Since 2013/14, the amount paid out in Maintenance Loans has more than doubled (+ 111.4%). This is predominantly due to the continuing effect of the policy change made in academic year 2016/17 which saw non-repayable Maintenance Grants replaced by increased Maintenance Loans (for eligible students).
In contrast, as shown in Figure 3, Maintenance Grant payments have reduced from £1.6 billion awarded in 2013/14, to just £3.5 million in 2021/22. From 2016/17 onwards Maintenance Grants were no longer made available to new students. Therefore, since this time all grants paid relate to full-time students in continuing study from earlier years/cohorts.
Due to the discontinuation of these grants, the % of maintenance support attributed to loans has increased from 70.9% in academic year 2015/16, to almost 100% in 2021/22 as the last eligible grant students have reached the end of their courses.
An undergraduate Tuition Fee Loan covers the cost of the tuition fees charged by the university or college. These loans are available to those studying an eligible undergraduate, initial teacher training or Postgraduate Certificate of Education course, at an eligible higher education provider on a full or part-time basis. Tuition Fee Loans are not dependent on household income.
Numbers of full-time students taking out Tuition Fee Loans remained at 2020/21 levels in academic year 2021/22 (- 0.2%) at 1.2 million. This follows a significant increase (of + 6.6%) in 2020/21, which was a markedly higher increase than in previous academic years. Table 3B(i)
In comparison to 2020/21, the amount paid out in full-time Tuition Fee Loans reduced by 4.6%, to £10.1 billion. This is the first noted decrease and is due to the average loan reducing from £8,710 to £8,320.
It should be noted that Tuition Fee Loan figures within this publication are marked as ‘provisional’ in the most recent academic year and are therefore subject to change. It is possible that there were continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic including later course start dates, students taking previously postponed placements, increased mid-year course withdrawals or students not borrowing the maximum available loan etc. Whether these have had a genuine impact on 2021/22’s figures will be evident in our 2023 publication, when they are finalised.
A 1.4% increase in loans paid on behalf of England-domiciled students was offset by a 30.3% decrease (- 18,200) in those paid on behalf of EU (outside UK) students.
Figure 5 shows levels of Tuition Fee Loans paid on behalf of EU (outside UK) students.
The significant increase in academic year 2020/21 could be attributed to that year being named as the final year in which new EU students were eligible for Tuition Fee support. Figures for academic year 2021/22 will therefore only include continuing students from earlier years.
90,700 Tuition Fee Loans were paid on behalf of part-time students in academic year 2021/22. This is a 6,300 decrease on the previous year (- 6.5%). Table 5A
This decrease follows a significant increase of + 14.5% in 2020/21 when an additional 10,000 entrants enrolled in Open University courses, potentially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting some employment sectors. Increases noted in the two previous years (from 2018/19 to 2019/20) averaged at 2.1%.
England-domiciled students decreased by 6.3% (- 6,000) in 2021/22 and EU (outside UK) domiciled students decreased by 13.6% (- 400).
£299.7 million was paid out in Tuition Fee Loans on behalf of part-time students in academic year 2021/22. This is 12.4% less than in the previous year. Payments made on behalf of England-domiciled students decreased by 12.1%, and EU (outside UK) payments reduced by 22.1%.
The average Tuition Fee Loan paid on behalf of a part-time England-domiciled student reduced from £3,510 to £3,290 (- 6.3%) and the average paid on behalf of an EU (outside UK) domiciled student decreased from £4,160 to £3,750 (- 9.9%). Table 2
Accelerated degrees are full-time courses taught in a time period of at least one year less than the length of the equivalent standard course. To qualify these courses must lead to an honours, ordinary or integrated master’s degree. For courses that meet the eligibility to be classed as accelerated degrees, higher education providers can now charge 20% extra on the maximum standard fee for that course whereas previously they could only charge the same as the equivalent standard course.
In their third year of availability, the number of loans paid out for accelerated study increased by 660 to 2,920 in academic year 2021/22 (+ 29.1%). This follows a significant 181.7% increase in the previous year. The total amount paid increased by 25.8% (+ £5.7 million) to £28.0 million. This follows a notable 198.5% increase in 2020/21. Table 3B(iii)
The average paid out on behalf of an England-domiciled student decreased by 2.8% (from £9,900 to £9,620) and the EU (outside UK) average increased by 2.1% (from £9,180 to £9,370).
As a % of the total number of full-time undergraduates taking full-time Tuition Fee Loans in 2021/22, those studying on accelerated degrees made up approximately 0.2%.
Since academic year 2015/16, levels of those who receive only a Tuition Fee Loan (no Maintenance Loan) have reduced year-on-year; from 77,200 to 68,000 in 2019/20 (- 11.9%). Table 3D
In 2020/21, this trend reversed and numbers increased (+ 6,700 / + 9.9%). The provisional figure for 2021/22 shows a continued (albeit smaller) increase of 1,300 (+ 2.2%) to 76,000. However, as a % of all loan borrowers, this has remained constant at 6.3%.
The initial increase in 2020/21 could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic where students remained at their parental home due to temporary provider-closures and therefore the need for maintenance support was less than in previous years. These students may have since opted to stay at home in their subsequent year of study.
Since academic year 2016/17, the number of students taking only a Maintenance Loan (no Tuition Fee Loan) has significantly reduced year on year; from 98,300 down to 42,000 (- 57.3%) in 2020/21. However, provisional figures for academic year 2021/22 show a potential significant increase of 21.4% to 51,000.
It should be noted that last year’s provisional figure showed a potential increase of + 2.7% (to 45,000) against the previous year, yet the finalised figure quoted in this publication shows the previous trend had resumed, and numbers taking just a Maintenance Loan had in fact decreased by 4.2%. This could be attributed to students starting courses later in the academic year and therefore Tuition Fee Loan payments were paid after the end-August cut-off date for the data used in this publication series.
As a % of all loan borrowers, those taking only Tuition Fee Loans remained at 6.3%, whereas those taking Maintenance Loans only, increased by 0.7% (from 3.5% in 2020/21, to 4.2%).
A Postgraduate Master’s and Doctoral Loan is funding to help with course and living costs whilst studying an eligible postgraduate level course. They are paid directly to the student and are not based on their income or the income of their household. Students studying either a Postgraduate Certificate of Education or an initial teacher training course are not eligible for postgraduate funding, they can alternatively apply for undergraduate finance.
Academic year 2021/22 saw an 11.9% decrease in the number of students taking out a Postgraduate Master’s Loan in comparison to the previous year (- 12,900). This contrasts with the + 21.5% increase reported in 2020/21. Table 6A(i)
The amount paid out has similarly decreased by 15.1% (- £137.3 million) to £769.2 million, also opposing the trend noted in 2020/21.
The significant increases in the previous year could have been as a result of perceived reduced employment opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, either encouraging undergraduates to continue to postgraduate level or non-students to return to study. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect a reduction in comparison to this outlying year. When omitting that academic year, the number of loans paid increased by 7.1% and the amount paid by 8.0%. This is in line with increases noted when comparing 2018/19 to 2019/20.
The number of England-domiciled students paid a Postgraduate Master’s Loan decreased by 10.8% (- 11,000) in comparison to academic year 2020/21. EU (outside UK) domiciled decreased by 28.6% (- 1,900).
The total paid out to England-domiciled students decreased by 13.9% (- £117.1 million) to £726.9 million and payments to EU (outside UK) domiciled students decreased by 32.2% (- £20.1 million) to £42.3 million.
In academic year 2018/19, Postgraduate Doctoral Loans were made available to both England and EU (outside UK)-domiciled students who commenced an eligible Doctoral degree. Students must be undertaking a full Level 8 Doctoral course which must last between three and eight academic years. These loans are paid directly to the student and can be used for both tuition and/or maintenance costs.
Eligible students apply for the loan amount they will require for the entire duration of their course (up to a maximum of £27,265 in academic year 2021/22) and also provide an estimate of the number of years in which they will study (this can change at any time). Each academic year’s instalment is capped at a maximum rate (£11,570 for 2021/22 applicants).
The number of students in receipt of the Postgraduate Doctoral Loan increased to 9,700 in academic year 2021/22. This is a 12.4% increase on the 8,600 paid for academic year 2020/21. Year-on-year increases have slowed since the loan’s introduction in 2018/19 (from 89.1% in 2019/20) which is typical in the introductory years of a new loan product. Table 6A(ii)
England-domiciled students increased by 12.7% (+ 1,000) and EU (outside UK)-domiciled students increased by 7.0% (+ 30).
The total amount paid out to Doctoral students reached £56.5 million, relatively as paid out in academic year 2020/21 (- 0.2%). This variance is significantly different to the increases noted in the previous two years (of + 86.1% and + 53.4% respectively). This is driven by a reduction in the average borrowed in 2021/22, which could be attributed to Doctoral students opting to take higher amounts of their maximum annual rate in the first years of their Doctoral course, and lesser in subsequent years of their course; or disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Doctoral studies.
£53.7 million was paid to England-domiciled students (consistent with 2020/21). £2.8 million was paid to EU (outside UK) students; a decrease of 3.7% (- £0.1 million).
Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is an additional part of the student finance package and helps pay for extra costs a student might incur in higher education as a direct result of their disability. This includes long-term health conditions, mental health difficulties, specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia or dyspraxia etc. The allowance is non repayable and does not depend on household income. The individual’s condition must meet the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Generally, Disabled Students’ Allowance is paid direct to the providers of equipment and services covered by the allowance although students may receive some funding paid directly to them, depending on their circumstances.
The vast majority of DSA is paid to suppliers once the Student Loans Company receive the invoices for equipment or services. Invoices continue to be received well after the end of the academic year which is why we quote figures a year later.
The total number of claimants receiving full-time Disabled Students’ Allowance for the 2020/21 academic year increased by + 8.1% to 69,600 in comparison to the previous academic year. The amount paid out increased by + £13.6 million (+ 11.3%) to £133.7 million. Table 4B
Figure 13 indicates a continued, and more profound reduction in the amount paid out in ‘Travel’ DSA claims in comparison to the previous year, with the amount paid out having reduced by 56.6% (- £4.4m).
This is likely due to the fact that much higher education provision in academic year 2020/21 took place remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that journeys to and from providers would have been significantly reduced.
‘Non-Medical Helpers’ claims have experienced the second (and more substantial) year of increase in comparison to previous year with the amount increasing by 15.7% (+ £7.6 million). This is partially due to a 7.2% increase in the number of claimants in this category (+ 3,000).
As at 31 August 2022, a total of £127.8 million has been paid for academic year 2021/22 for full-time students. This is 5.3% higher than the £121.4 million paid by the same point for 2020/21.
This provisional position for academic year 2021/22 shows that ‘Travel’ payments are 191.2% higher than the same point for 2020/21 (+ £5.5 million). This is likely a result of the notably reduced pandemic-related disruption at higher education providers in 2021/22 compared to in the previous year. This provisional position is more in line with that for academic years 2018/19 and 2019/20.
Childcare Grants are awarded to students to assist with the costs for childcare while they attend University or college. The awards are based on the household income and the students’ own circumstances. In academic year 2019/20, Childcare Grant payments changed from being paid to students (new and continuing) based on estimated costs, to being paid to childcare providers directly via a third-party system, based on actual costs incurred. This was done in partnership with a third-party partner, the Childcare Grant Payment Service (CCGPS). Please note that payments/awards shown are those made in the academic year and so not necessarily related to costs incurred within that academic year.
As a result of the change from Childcare Grant being paid to students (new and continuing) based on estimated costs, to being paid to childcare providers directly (via a third-party system) there is a break in the time series when reporting Childcare Grants. Up until academic year 2019/20, Childcare Grant was reported as ‘awards’ based on the number of students applying and the student’s given financial estimates for the year, which were then finalised a year later in the subsequent publication (Table 4C(i) – formerly Table 4C).
From 2019/20 actual payments to childcare providers are reported (Table 4C(ii)), as with loan products shown in this publication.
As at 31 August 2022, childcare providers have been paid on behalf of 35,400 full-time students for the 2021/22 academic year. This is a 17.5% increase in comparison to the same point in 2020/21 (+ 5,300), slightly higher than the 16.1% increase noted in the previous year. Table 4C(ii)
The average claim increased from £5,400 to £5,700 in academic year 2021/22. As a result, the amount paid out by end-August 2022 increased by 25.1% (+ £40.7 million) to £202.9 million.
For more information regarding awards versus payments, please refer to our Things you need to know section.
Table 7C(i) shows an early view of academic year 2022/23 at effective date 31 October 2022. This would be approximately two months into a typical academic year.
These figures will be near-finalised in Table 2 of the publication, due to be released in November 2023.
In comparison to the same point in the 2021/22 academic year, the number of students awarded/paid student finance has reduced by 3.3% and the amount paid/awarded has decreased by 2.4%.
At the effective date used for this data, both academic year 2020/21 and 2021/22 could be considered outlying years; 2020/21 due to the early payment of the second instalment of undergraduate tuition fee payments made to higher education (HE) providers, and 2021/22 due to the resulting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, trends in these years may be less representative than earlier years.
This significant decrease in the amount paid/awarded between this point in time in academic year 2021/22 and the same point in 2020/21 can predominantly be attributed to the early payment of the second instalment of undergraduate tuition fees payments made to higher education (HE) providers for the 2020/21 academic year. In October 2020, two payments were made instead of the second being made in February 2021. As a result, variances in amounts awarded/paid for undergraduates are less representative in comparison to previous years. For more information on factors affecting 2020/21 early-in-year figures, please refer to the Additional Information section of this document.
As at 31 October 2022, a total of £4.6 billion had been paid/awarded to 1.1 million undergraduate students for the 2022/23 academic year. The number of those paid/awarded is 2.4% below the end-October position in academic year 2021/22 (- 27,000) and the amount paid/awarded is 1.6% less (- £75.5 million).
Full-time students paid/awarded numbers reduced by 2.3% to 1.1 million (- 26,000) and part-time students reduced by 3.6%, to 49,200 (-1,900).
This early look at the 2022/23 academic year indicates a total of £202.4 million has been paid to 69,300 postgraduate students so far. In comparison to the same point in 2021/22, this is a 17.0% decrease (- 14,200) in the number of postgraduates paid and a 16.8% decrease (- £41.0 million) in the amount paid out. Due to the later start-dates of postgraduate courses in comparison to undergraduate courses, an enhanced picture of the academic year 2022/23 will not be evident until much later and will feature in Table 2 and Section 6 of the 2023 version of this publication.
Figure 17 includes both undergraduate and postgraduate students domiciled in EU (outside UK).
As at end-October 2022, 25,100 EU (outside UK) students have been paid either undergraduate or postgraduate funding. This is 34.1% less than the 38,000 students paid at the same point in academic year 2021/22.
£58.3 million has been paid out so far for the 2022/23 academic year. This is 33.8% less than the £88.0 million paid out at the same point for 2021/22.
It should also be noted that new EU (outside UK) domiciled students in academic year 2021/22 were no longer eligible for tuition fee funding. Therefore, figures for academic year 2021/22 and 2022/23 will only include continuing students from earlier academic years.
This larger decrease from 2020/21 to 2021/22 will also be as a result of the early payment of the second instalment of undergraduate tuition fee payments in academic year 2020/21.
‘Returning’ students are defined as any student who has received funding from Student Finance England within the same mode of study (i.e., full-time, part-time, postgraduate) in the immediately preceding academic year. Any student who has changed study modes between academic years, or who were not in study/not funded in the preceding academic year would be included as a ‘new’ student.
As shown in Table 7C(ii), as at 31 October 2022, the number of ‘returning’ students awarded/paid decreased by 2.2%, following a 3.2% increase in the previous year.
‘New’ students awarded/paid decreased by 5.4%, a more considerable reduction than the 1.7% decrease reported at the same point in the previous academic year.
The number of ‘new’ undergraduate students awarded/paid for 2022/23 decreased by 3.2% in comparison to the same point in 2021/22, and ‘returning’ decreased by 2.0%.
‘New’ postgraduates decreased by a significant 19.4% and ‘returning’ decreased by 10.3%.
Figure 19 shows the % movement of ‘new’ awarded/paid students by student support type.
The most significant % changes in movement at this stage of the 2022/23 academic year can be identified within ‘new’ England-domiciled undergraduates paid/awarded, with ‘new’ part-time reducing by 8% and ‘new’ full-time reducing by 3% in comparison to the same point in 2021/22.
These are the first % reductions we have reported in undergraduates.
‘New’ postgraduate has fallen for the second year, by a more significant % than in 2021/22.
Details on student support available in academic year 2021/22 and 2022/23 can be found here.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education and devolved administrations of Wales and Northern Ireland requested that the Student Loans Company revised the schedule of undergraduate tuition fee payments to higher education providers for the 2020/21 academic year. This revision enabled providers to access the second instalment of tuition fee payments early (two paid in October 2020, instead of first paid October 2020 and second in February 2021), while ensuring that students were not impacted by the change. The normal schedule resumed in academic year 2021/22.
Figures for academic year 2020/21 may also have been affected by the Ofqual standardisation of grades, allowing students whose exams were cancelled in the summer of 2020 to receive calculated grades enabling them to progress to further study. For more information please refer to gov.uk.
For definitions of terms used in our publication, please refer to our Definitions page.
This publication uses data from SLC’s administrative systems. For details of the administrative data sources used in our publications please refer to our Statement of Administrative Sources.
Student Loans Company has published the quality guidelines that it follows. As per those guidelines a quality plan is produced for each publication. The quality plan stipulates two stages of quality assurance. Data is extracted from the administrative systems then reviewed using a standard quality assurance checklist. The statistical tables created using that data are quality assured using the statistical quality guidelines. Please refer to our Quality Guidelines for further information.
Student Loans Company publish statistics on higher education funding for Wales and Northern Ireland as part of the same series this publication belongs to. These are published at the same time as part of the series Student Support for Higher Education.
In December 2020, owing to the significant public interest, SLC took the decision to publish data on the withdrawal notifications it receives from higher education providers (HEPs) in order to contribute towards an understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic may be impacting students. Due to ongoing interest, SLC continues to publish this series. These publications are housed within our Other Statistics section of gov.uk.
SLC also publish statistics on the repayment of student loans for higher education in the series ‘Student Loans in England’. The latest release of this series, covering tax year 2021-22 was published on 16 June 2022.
The Student Awards Agency for Scotland publish details of higher education funding in Scotland in their publication ‘Higher Education Student Support in Scotland’. The latest release of this series was published in August 2022 covering academic session 2020/21.
This is a National Statistics publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
This publication series (publications for England, Wales & Northern Ireland) was awarded National Statistics status in October 2011 following a full assessment against their Code of Practice.
Since the assessments by the Office for Statistics Regulation we have continued to comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics and have made several improvements. For more information, please refer to our National Statistics page.
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