Both the fracking and course related costs reports that I’ve read have been well rounded and full of information!
I read your report on course related costs due to the fact that anything Studylink related catches my eye as I regularly work at their processing centre. As such, I have processed this kind of thing all the time.
There are a couple of views on the course related costs depending on who you talk to, some of the more pedantic people that work at Studylink will try and give students the 1k per year, however, the exact policy is actually a little less specific on this.
From what I remember and understand, the course related costs is available per Loan Account, which cannot run more than a 52 week period. On top of this, each loan account is generally per institution.
I recall a particular exploit I came across where the student I questioned actually had multiple loans going throughout the year at the time. It was possible to get the course related costs as long as you were doing part time study full year round. This has since been changed, and the Course related costs can only be received by a student that is doing full time, full year study.
Anyway, this particular student had a single paper in first semester, and a single paper in second semester, and by Studylink standards that made him part time full year, allowing access to CRC. Where the exploit was, is that he had 1 paper for each semester, with three different institutions. At this point, that’s three different loan accounts that could be claimed for CRC each, and when someone does apply for more CRC after they have used the allotted 1k, it brings up a flag for someone at the processing centre to look into. It’s a simple matter of checking when the last time they got it, and if they are eligible for more. we generally compare a number of factors, and this outlines how… stupid… part of the system is.
If a student uses the full 1k for a computer one year, claims the next year’s full entitlement early enough to raise the flag, and goes under computer AGAIN, we are meant to ring them and ask why they need it for a computer, when last year they spent it on one. However, if a student goes the full amount on travel both times, we pass over it. It seems silly to me to pass over one and not the other.
One of the other things we compare is whether or not the course the CRC is applied for is the same as previous applications.
Because the student was doing three different courses, and based on the legislation we had setup, we HAD to give the student the full amount, even though to us it seemed obvious he was working the system.
Another recent change to the CRC besides the requirement of being a Full time student, is that from… I think it is either 2013 or 2015, students aged 55 or over will not be eligible for CRC either.
Other things to note about CRC… the requirement for ‘receipts’ or ‘invoices’ is arbitrary really. We want everything done online so that there is less paper work, on top of that, if you put in however much money you want as simply travel, either half the CRC or all of it, its not questioned. At All. There is realistically too much effort in trying to make students prove they are using the amount for travel costs, as they don’t spend it all on petrol at once do they? So it’s one of the ones we never question.
Generally, the view is taken that ‘its part of their loan, they have to pay it back, let them have it’
All in all, I’m in favour of the increase to course related costs. There are parts to the student loan and allowance schemes that make it harder for students like myself to get help, even with the ‘insider’ knowledge of actually working there before.
The idea that many students sit there and use their course related costs for fun times and happiness? That’s always going to happen… but as it’s part of their loan, and if they fail because they used the money for the wrong purpose? Who’s fault is that going to be really?