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Financial Issues: Access to funds - PI061604

Queen Mary University of London

A student complained to us about a decision taken by Queen Mary University of London on his application to the Financial Assistance Fund, which operates under national Access to Learning Fund (ALF) guidance. The University had upheld his appeal, and recalculated the student’s allocation from the fund, but he remained dissatisfied.

Part of the student’s complaint related to the inclusion of salary sacrifice childcare vouchers in the University’s calculation of his income. The student had not declared the value of the vouchers or deducted the amount from the childcare costs he included on his application form. He argued that as the fund guidance and application form did not make any reference to childcare vouchers they should be excluded.

The ALF guidance is clear that institutions have discretion to make decisions based on local circumstances. It also provides for calculations to take account of actual childcare costs and in kind benefits, including salary sacrifice scheme childcare vouchers. We considered it reasonable for the University to take into account the value of the vouchers.

We decided the case was Not Justified.