We've always recognised that it is living costs, not tuition fees, that are the real barrier to higher education
We believe that access to higher education should be based solely on merit and academic ability
and not the ability to pay.
However, we recognise that access to higher education free at the point of use is not enough to ensure fair and equal access for all students from all socio-economic backgrounds.
In Autumn 2015, we called for greater investment and prioritisation in the levels of grants and bursaries available to students in Wales, in particular for part-time and mature students and student parents, in our "Save Hardship Funding for Students in Wales" motion.
Since then, it has been fantastic to see the Welsh Liberal Democrat Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams AM, implement the Diamond Reforms - a radical improvement to student finance for Welsh students!
Understanding that living costs are one of the biggest worries for students, the new system provides a maintenance allowance (of grants and loans) equal to the national living wage. Every Welsh student will also get a new yearly grant of £1,000 on top of loans and grants resulting in over £8,000 per year in living cost support.
We were particularly thrilled to see this funding extending to part-time degrees as well, resulting in a 35% increase in part-time study in the first year under the new system, as well as the introduction of student finance for postgraduate study!