NHS Bursary for Social Work degree student

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    chris harvey

    I’m really stuck so any advice gratefully received.
    We have a student taking a social work degree at a local uni. He receives:-
    – a maintenance grant and loan from the uni. The award letter details a grant element of £7056, a maintenance loan of £3497 and a tuition fee loan of £3375. I am happy in dealing with this, I know we disregard the tuition fee loan, books and travel.
    However in addition he receives an NHS bursary of £4575. The award letter states that this includes £575 towards Placement Learning Opportunity travel expenses and I have established this can be disregarded. The award letter contains additional information stating that the award includes a “contribution towards your tuition fees” but no set amount is included.
    I have obtained additional information from the NHS Social Work bursary website – it tells me there are 2 levels of bursary, one of £3075 for those students attending uni’s that do not charge variable tuition fees and a higher award of £4575 for students attending uni’s with variable tuition fees. Clearly my customer is attending a uni with variable tuition fees. The website adds that the higher award is to assist with the costs of tuition fees but the student can choose whether they use some or all of the bursary for tuition fees or apply to the uni for a tuition fee loan to cover some or all of the tuition fees. It leaves it to the discretion of the student whether they use it for tuition fees.
    So how do I treat the bursary income. My customer is arguing that the bursary should be totally disregarded as it is to help with tuition fees that are disregarded under reg 59(2). I can see that there is an extra £1500 in the higher award that is apparently intended to help with tuition fees so may be I should disregard £1500 plus the £575 travel expenses? Alternatively as he has received a tuition fee loan from the uni to cover the fees should I just disregard the travel expenses and count the remaining £4000?
    He has already lodged an appeal and is likely to take it to FtT so I am trying to get this right.


    I dont suppose you came to a decision on this did you? – i have the same scenario. Customer will receive from September 12:

    £5749 loan

    £6908.93 grant (fully disregarded as made up of special support grant, PLA and child care grant).

    £4575 bursary.

    She states to me that £575 is for petrol, travel etc.

    The bursary is an incentive to attract people to take on a social work qualification due to the number needed.

    I am just a little unsure how the bursary is treated in this case and so wondered how your appeal went…

    Many thanks!

    chris harvey

    I took advice from the DWP who said as the tuition fees were covered in full by a tuition fee loan, then no additional disregard from the bursary should be allowed for tuition fees. To do otherwise would be disregarding it twice.
    The appeal has been submitted to the Tribunal Service, we are waiting for a date.


    Brilliant at least it gives me something to work from. Sorry can I bother you once more please, the £575 for Placement Learning Opportunity travel expenses, where did you find that this is disregarded?

    My claimant hasnt stated what her loan is made up of so if i request a breakdown of this and none of it includes a tuition fee loan then do you think it is correct to disregard the bursary as it wont be duplicating the disregard?

    Many thanks for your help Chris.


    chris harvey

    reg 59(1)g allows you to disregard sums intended for travel expenses.
    If she does not receive a tuition fee loan then I think you should disregard the amount of the tuition fees from the bursary.


    Cheers Chris you have made everything much easier for me.

    Many thanks.


    Chris, did you get a result for your appeal?

    My claimant as a scoial work bursary that is made up as follows:
    Basic grant £3362.50 (including £862.50 for travel)
    Maintenance Grant £2608.00
    Parents Learning Allowance £1508.00

    Additionally the letter says “please take this letter to your Higher Education Institute as evidence that we will pay your tuition fees up to a maximum of £3,828”

    This seems to suggest that the NHS will pay tuition fees in addition to the grant. So other than PLA and travel everything would be included as income. Is that right?

    chris harvey

    Hello Michael
    I think your student is a little different to the one I had. It is clear that your bursary does not include an amount for tuition fees because the award states they will pay those separately. So you just need to apply the rules to your award by disregarding anything for books and travel and the PLA.
    My student went to tribunal where the judge found in their favour stating anything that may be used for tuition fees should be disregarded so we had to disregard both the tuition fee loan and the bursary. I have sent a copy of the decision to the DWP with a note saying they may want to consider amending the regs as I don’t think the judgement is consistant with the policy intention.

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