Students’ confusion over forms and eligibility forces review of system

The General Social Care Council is reviewing its application forms
for postgraduate courses because of the large number of students
who are finding it too confusing.

Students are filling in application forms incorrectly, leading to
delays in funding decisions and confusion around eligibility.

Unlike undergraduate courses where local education authorities
assess whether applicants comply with eligibility criteria for fees
and bursaries, postgraduate courses require the GSCC to process
applications. Some students, such as those who are non-UK passport
holders, have to prove they have worked or have been residents in
the UK for the past three years.

A GSCC spokesperson said the application process for the annual
2,500 postgraduate places was being reviewed to see if it could be
simplified for next year.

“The education (student support) regulations 2002 are complicated
and can be confusing, and you do need to provide a lot of
evidence,” she said.

“We have a whole folder of applicants who haven’t sent in the
evidence that is requested. Until we get that evidence we cannot
process their applications.”

As well as having course fees paid, students can claim a basic
average of £3,000 a year (potentially higher depending on
income) to help towards living and travel costs under the bursary
scheme administered by the GSCC.

The move follows the case of Rob Boylan, 31, who was on the verge
of turning down his place on the University of Southampton’s
two-year masters course in social care because he thought he was
ineligible for the bursary as a non-UK national, despite the fact
he has lived, worked and studied here for most of his life.

Boylan had filled in his forms incorrectly, failing to provide
evidence of his UK residency over the past three years.
Consequently, his application has not been processed but is now
being reviewed and amended.

The GSCC advises postgraduates to take care over filling in the
application forms, provide documentary evidence to back up answers
where required, and contact its bursary helpline if they believe
their case should be reassessed.

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