University funds for children of fallen troops unveiled

Image caption,
Defence personnel minister Andrew Robathan said the plan would show the nation's gratitude to troops

The government has given details of a university scholarship scheme for children of British servicemen and women from England, Scotland and Wales killed on active duty.

In England, funding of £8,200 per year will be available from 2011 for further education or university courses.

The value of the scholarships will be reviewed when tuition fees in England rise to up to £9,000 a year from 2012.

Scholarship amounts are yet to be released for Scotland and Wales.

Plans were first announced in October for the scheme, which is open to the children of servicemen and women killed on active duty since 1990.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills estimates that the programme will fund up to 100 students at any one time.

The decision follows a pledge made by the Conservatives in early 2010, when they were in opposition.

'Not disadvantaged'

"It is surely right that we go out of our way to support the families of those brave servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep the nation safe," said Universities Minister David Willetts.

"The scholarships scheme will ensure that children who have lost a parent on active duty are not disadvantaged if they decide to study at university."

Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans, Andrew Robathan, said: "Nothing can compensate for the loss of a parent but I hope that through this scheme we can ensure that families have the enduring gratitude of the nation for the sacrifices they have made."

University fees are currently about £3,200 per year in England, and are paid up front through a government loan which graduates then pay back when they start earning.

But degree costs are to rise to up to £9,000 from September 2010, under controversial plans passed earlier this month.

Scottish students studying in Scotland do not have to pay fees.

Welsh students currently face similar charges to English ones, but the Welsh Assembly has said it will cover the cost of fee increases.

The government also said it would continue to help fund first further or higher education qualifications for people who had served at least four years in the armed forces.

The minimum service requirement would be waived for those who were medically discharged, it said.

Earlier this month, the government said it would provide schools with an extra £200 for every child of armed services personnel that they taught, primarily to help fund extra pastoral support.

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