Version 1.0 - Last Updated: 16 Feb 2021
Our COVID-19 questions and answers for higher education providers
SSIN 06/20 – AY 2020/21 funding arrangements for students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
You should view these questions together with Student Support Information Note (SSIN) 06/20. They cover all English and Welsh students.
Q1: Do we need to make changes to a student’s account if they are unwell due to COVID-19 in AY 2020/21?
A: If the student is unwell and cannot engage with their course, we would not expect you to submit a Suspension CoC until 60 days after they stop engaging. We are aware some providers are planning to provide a mix of attendance and online learning. If the student can engage with teaching remotely, they do not need a Suspension CoC.
Q2: Will students be eligible for further support if they are shielding due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: If the student is shielding and cannot engage with their course, we will first consider this under the 60 days' additional support for health reasons. If the student’s circumstances mean they exceed this existing allowance, we will decide on a case by case basis if we can grant further support.
We know that some providers plan to provide a mix of attendance and online teaching. We expect that shielding students can still engage with the course online. This would not be a suspension, so as such we do not need you to submit a Suspension CoC.
Q3: If students are studying online at the start of AY 2020/21, what funding are they eligible for?
A: If a student is on a course which would ordinarily need attendance, but will be studying online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will count them as in attendance for the purposes of student finance. This means that the usual attendance and registration procedures apply and we will pay students as normal. We would not expect you to make any changes to your course details.
Courses ordinarily delivered via distance learning should remain this way on the Courses Management Service (CMS).
Q4: We have students who planned to study abroad in AY 2020/21. Now they are studying online with their overseas provider. What options are available to them?
A: Students who would have been taking a year abroad in AY 2020/21 will continue to be deemed in attendance. They qualify for support if they are living in the UK and studying online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the overseas provider organises the online study and the students are studying full time at the home provider for less than 10 weeks, then the 15% fee cap will apply. However, students will not qualify for the increased overseas rate of maintenance loan while they are studying online from the UK. They must travel overseas to receive this rate.
It is important that you tell us when a student is studying online with an overseas provider (and for which periods). This will let us reassess them for both maintenance and tuition fees so they are getting the correct funding. The Department for Education (DfE) has released Student Support Information Note (SSIN) 06/20. This advises you to use discretion when charging the full year fee for students who fall just outside the 10 week limit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q5: We have students who were due to travel abroad in AY 2020/21. The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed this. What support are they eligible for?
A: Students who were due to travel but need to delay this due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for normal funding. We need you to keep us informed of their study patterns and when they will be in the UK and abroad. This will let us assess them at the correct rates if they move abroad to complete their studies.
Q6: We have EU students who are due to start with us in September. They are unable to be in the UK at the start of the academic year. Do they still meet the residency requirements?
A: Students who cannot reside in the UK or EU on the dates relevant to establishing eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic are considered 'temporarily absent'. They will be eligible for funding if they meet all other eligibility criteria.
We would encourage students to return to the UK (or EU if studying overseas) as soon as it is safe and practical.
Q7: We have distance learning students who have returned to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Are they still eligible for support?
A: These students are still eligible for funding if they cannot reside in (or return to) the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They must otherwise meet the requirements for funding, but we consider this period of study to be in the UK.
Also, if students cannot start their distance learning course in the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will be able to do so from their home country.
In both circumstances, we would encourage students to return to the UK as soon as this is safe and practical.
Q8: Do students need to tell you if their term time address has changed and they are currently residing in their parental home?
A: Guidance on term time addresses has changed. For specific information on the changes, please see:
- the FAQs for students on GOV.UK for Student Finance England (SFE) students – covers January and your next term
- the COVID-19 guidance on the Student Finance Wales (SFW) website for SFW students – covers the January term
We will add further information on any changes when we have this.
Q9: We have postgraduate EU students who do not have a UK bank account. Can you still pay them?
A: Our systems do not allow for payments into international bank accounts. We cannot make these payments until the students set up UK bank accounts.
Q10: EU students who cannot travel to the UK in AY 2020/21 may need to study online. This means they will not be able to set up UK bank accounts. Can the Bursary Administration Service (BAS) pay bursaries into EU bank accounts?
A: We cannot make bursary payments to non-UK bank accounts. Whilst all returning students should have a UK account, first-year students may not have this option. In this case, you would need to pay the student any bursary directly.
Q1: If a student’s situation has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, are they still eligible for support as a migrant worker?
A: EEA national workers or self-employed persons may keep that status while they're temporarily unable to work due to illness or accident. If they were unable to work because they were ill with coronavirus, they should provide medical evidence. For example, this can be a letter from a doctor.
This also includes job loss specifically because of coronavirus restrictions. This applies even if they were not ill with coronavirus themselves. They should provide evidence confirming the reasons for their involuntary unemployment. For example, this can be a letter from their employer. We will not need evidence that they're registered with a Jobcentre Plus and actively seeking work.
If the job loss is not related to coronavirus, they must refer to the 'Retaining worker or self-employed person status' section on pages 23 to 26 of the EEA nationals qualified persons guidance.
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