Consultation on the Frequency of Student Support Payments

Closed 27 Sep 2015

Opened 3 Aug 2015

Feedback Updated 9 Jan 2017

We Asked

From 3 August 2015 to 27 September 2015, we asked for your views on proposals relating to the frequency of student support payments. You were invited to consider four options and had an opportunity to provide additional comments.



You Said

A total of 17 responses were received to the consultation. The responses demonstrated that there is no clear consensus on an agreed way forward on this issue, with almost as many respondents being in favour of maintaining the status quo as for introducing change. A summary of your responses is available at the following link:

Frequency of student support payments | Department for the Economy


We Did

As the responses to the consultation did not indicate a clear consensus on an agreed way forward on this issue, and given the additional costs involved in making any amendment to the current payment structures, Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has decided that no immediate changes will be made to the current frequency of student support payments. A watching brief on the position in the rest of the UK will however be maintained, and the Department will re-evaluate the position in Northern Ireland should the need arise in the future.


Every full-time undergraduate student from Northern Ireland, regardless of where they study in the UK can avail of financial support. Known as the student support package it comprises of two main elements: a non-means tested tuition fee loan to cover the costs associated with tuition fees; and a partially means tested maintenance support package to support students in meeting the day to day living costs associated with attending higher education. The tuition fee loan is paid directly to the students' higher education institution.The maintenance support package, on which this consultation focuses on, is paid directly to the student in three instalments during the academic year.

Concerns, however, have been raised as to the financial pressures currently facing students under the tri-annual payment system. It is argued that the existing payment schedule means that students must budget over periods of roughly four months at a time, heightening the risk of students exhausting their finances before the payment of the next instalment. It has therefore been mooted that more regular maintenance payments would mitigate the risk of financial mismanagement and by extension financial hardship.

This consultation looks at a number of policy proposals in regard to different payment frequencies for the student maintenance package.


  • Parents
  • Higher education students
  • Prospective higher education students
  • School students
  • Academic staff
  • Research staff
  • Non-academic staff


  • Higher Education
  • Student Loans