Guidance for all institutions administering the 16 to 18 Residential Bursary Fund in 2016 to 2017.
This guide sets out Residential Bursary Fund (RBF) policy in the 2016 to 2017 academic year and the requirements for the administration of the funding. It also describes how Education Funding Agency (EFA) will collect monitoring information (MI) for the scheme.
Institutions must ensure RBF is spent in line with the scheme rules set out in this guide. RBF may only be used to support accommodation cost for residential students and to support travel between the student’s term time lodgings (if they live off site) and the institution. It must not be used for hardship, help with childcare costs or to help with transport costs for non-residential students, ie for home to institution travel.
Institutions are reminded that RBF is designed to support students who are attending the institution to participate in the designated specialism. Institutions have discretion to decide which students receive RBF support and how much they receive, however, EFA expects that the majority of the students receiving RBF help will be studying in the designated specialist subject areas.
RBF policy in the 2016 to 2017 academic year
RBF provides financial help towards the costs of accommodation for students attending one of the designated institutions delivering specialist provision, where that specialist provision needs the student to be resident in order to participate because it is not available locally and/or because it needs students to be available at unsociable hours on a regular basis. RBF enables young people to gain a substantial qualification in a specialist subject that they would not be able to get at a non-specialist institution.
RBF provides a contribution towards residential costs for those students the institution assesses as facing the most significant financial barriers to participation. It is not to provide support to all students on residentially delivered provision, or to necessarily cover the full costs for each student.
It is expected that most RBF funding will be used to cover accommodation costs. RBF should be used to help students with the costs of accommodation while they are in further education. The accommodation may be owned or managed by the institution or by a private landlord.
However, RBF may be used to help with travel costs between the student’s term time lodgings and the institution where appropriate. The use of RBF for travel costs for non-residential students, ie for home to institution travel costs, is not permitted.
Where institutions use RBF for travel costs for residential students living off campus, the amount spent should not exceed 15% of their total RBF allocation. To make sure RBF maintains its primary focus on residential support, spend on travel is also capped at £25,000. In other words, where 15% of the institution’s allocation is greater than £25,000, £25,000 is the maximum they may spend on travel costs.
If institutions face exceptional circumstances and feel that more needs to be spent on travel, they should submit a business case to:
Institutions can use up to 5% of their allocation for administrative costs.
To be eligible for RBF in the 2016 to 2017 academic year, students must be aged at least 16 and under 19 on 31 August 2016. Where a student turns 19 during their study programme, they can continue to be supported to the end of the academic year in which they turn 19 or to the end of their study programme, whichever is sooner.
Students must meet the residency criteria set out in the 2016 to 2017 academic year EFA Funding Regulations.
Institutions should target available funds towards those facing the most significant financial barriers to participation and institutions should assess the young person’s actual need for help with residential costs before awarding RBF support.
Institutions should take account of the young person’s household income as shown by receipt of benefits and/or P60, Tax Credit Award Notice or evidence of self-employment income before awarding RBF.
Assessment and payment of RBF
As RBF is awarded to institutions because they are delivering specialist provision, EFA expects that the majority of RBF funding will be used to support students enrolled on this provision. However, institutions have the discretion, in line with this guide, to decide which students get RBF support and how much support they should get. Institutions should manage the number and size of RBF awards they make to keep within their budget, targeting available funds towards those facing the most significant financial barriers to participation.
Institutions should assess each student’s actual need for help with residential costs, ie by assessing their household income, before deciding whether to award RBF support. RBF should not be awarded simply because a student is enrolled in residentially delivered provision. It is good practice for institutions to publish their RBF policy to help students understand the criteria against which they will be assessed.
RBF payments for accommodation must be made directly to the student’s landlord. The landlord may be the institution itself if they provide accommodation directly or a private landlord. No payments should be made directly to the student - any such payment would be subject to the Social Security Amendment (Students and Income related Benefits Regulations 2000). Receipt of other benefits and/or financial support does not exclude a student from receiving help with residential costs if they are experiencing financial difficulties in meeting the costs associated with participating in education.
Institutions may wish to consider keeping a contingency fund to respond to needs which come up later in the academic year in response to changes in a student’s circumstances rather than allocating all funds at the start of the year.
Institutions may use RBF to support residential students travel costs from their term time lodgings to site (up to the maximum of 15% of their allocation, capped at £25,000; in other words, where 15% of the institution’s allocation is greater than £25,000, £25,000 is the maximum amount that may be spent). The use of RBF for travel costs does not replace the statutory duty on local authorities to set out, in an annually published transport statement, the arrangements they will make to facilitate the participation in education or training of young people of sixth-form age.
RBF should not be used by an institution for any purpose designed to give them a competitive advantage over other institutions; nor should RBF be used for:
- enrolment or administration fees
- fees for access to college facilities
- block subsidy of transport
- costs that are in the scope of the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund
- childcare costs that are in the scope of the Care to Learn scheme
In determining arrangements for payment of RBF, institutions are subject to equalities legislation, which means they must not discriminate against their students on the basis of their protected characteristics. They are also subject to the public sector equality duty in section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010.
Students should be told that if they are unhappy about the way in which their request for RBF support is handled, they should follow the institution’s normal complaints procedure.
RBF allocations will be paid to institutions in 3 instalments: 50% in August, 25% in December and 25% in March.
Allocations are made to institutions to manage at their own discretion but in line with this guide. Allocations for the 2016 to 2017 academic year are based on the lower figure of either a) the average actual RBF spend over the two previous years or b) the amount of RBF allocated in the 2015 to 2016 academic year. This methodology allows us to reflect actual activity at each institution and offset in-year anomalies as far as possible.
Institutions that are made an allocation for RBF are responsible for:
- staying within budget (although they may choose to top-up the RBF budget from their own sources)
- paying out funds to contribute to the residential costs for students who meet the criteria for support
- reporting any anticipated underspend to EFA
- completing the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) to report students receiving residential support (and inform future allocations)
- providing minimal additional management information to EFA on an annual basis (in October) to provide data on student numbers, expenditure and ILR sector subject areas
Institutions may use up to 5% of their RBF allocation to cover administrative costs. The 5% administrative costs are part of the allocation total; they are not an additional 5% on top of the allocation total.
Institutions should use the funding allocated to them for RBF solely to support eligible students with residential costs in line with RBF policy.
Where institutions identify that they will be unable to spend the majority of their RBF allocation, they should notify EFA as soon as possible to arrange to repay the excess by contacting:
EFA will aim to distribute any returned funds to other institutions that can make use of further funding.
At the end of the academic year each institution will be notified of the intentions of EFA to reconcile their allocation and reported spend, including any action which will be taken to recover unspent or inappropriately spent RBF funding.
Data and management information requirements
Institutions should complete the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) to indicate the numbers of students getting residential support from RBF. EFA will use this information to develop future allocations.
EFA will also request minimal management information (MI) to support its monitoring of RBF and to inform future year’s allocations. The information which is required for the 2016 to 2017 academic year is as follows:
- the number of students supported with residential costs
- the total amount spent on residential costs
- the number of students living in term time lodging
- the number of students receiving RBF to help with transport costs whilst living in lodgings off campus
- the total amount spent (up to 15% of the allocation, capped at £25,000) on transport to off-site accommodation
- the amount spent (up to 5% of the allocation) on administrative costs
- RBF supported students’ study programme core aims, as reported in the ILR
EFA will issue more details about the MI collection before the return is due.
Institutions should maintain accurate and up to date records to evidence which students get RBF funding; confirm student eligibility for funding and show appropriate use of funds.
The administration and allocation of RBF is subject to the institution’s normal governance and audit regimes. RBF funding is also subject to assurance as part of the normal assurance arrangements for 16 to 19 education and training. Institutions should note that, following an audit, funding may be recovered where RBF payments are found not to have been made in accordance with this guide.
EFA cannot guarantee to reimburse any overspends by institutions as this is dependent on funds becoming available for recycling. Institutions are therefore advised not to overspend in the expectation that there will be a reallocation of funds later in the year. EFA will not reimburse any overspend that is not within the scheme rules as set out in this guide and may take action to recover any RBF funds spent outside the scheme rules.
RBF and other forms of financial support
Young people who get support from RBF may also get support from the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund, Care to Learn and/or free meals in further education where appropriate.
Institutions are not allowed to transfer funds between RBF and the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund. No transfer of funds is allowed between RBF and any adult discretionary learner support funds allocated to the institution by the Skills Funding Agency.
Young people on waged apprenticeship programmes, or any education or training where a wage is paid, are not eligible for RBF support.
List of specialist residential institutions
Specialist residential institutions offering the Residential Bursary Fund in the 2016 to 2017 academic year can be found on GOV.UK.
Institutions should direct any queries about the allocation and administration of RBF to: