West Thames College London

Financial Support

We may be able to offer support to help pay for course-related expenses if you can demonstrate financial hardship. This may include help with the costs of your kit, books, art supplies, photography materials or AAT exam fees, etc. For students aged 16-18 it may also mean regular payments from the Bursary Fund.

For more information see theStudent Guide to Financial Support 2016-17 booklet.

Higher Education [HND, Foundation Degree or BA Hons Degree - i.e. university level qualifications at Level 4 and higher.] students should visit Financial Support for HE Students.

Bursaries and Support

If you are dependent on benefits or very low income, there may be funds available from college:

  • Bursary
    For students aged 16, 17 or 18 (on 31 August 2016).
  • DLS (Discretionary Learner Support)
    For students in further education [A course at Entry level, Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3. Includes pre-university and vocational qualifications, full-time and part-time for all ages.] aged 19+ (on 31 August 2016) and studying a funded course at entry level, Level 1, 2 or 3.
  • Loan Bursary
    For students in receipt of the Advanced Learner Loan. For more information see the Advanced Learner Loan and Bursary booklet.
  • Welfare Fund
    For students who are not eligible for the DLS or a Bursary and who are in severe financial difficulty.

For more information see theStudent Guide to Financial Support 2016-17 booklet.

Changes to Your Benefits

There are huge changes happening to welfare benefits in the UK (and not just for students). The changes will affect Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. These benefits will merge into one payment and will be paid once a month directly into your bank account.

The new benefits are called Universal Credits.

To find out more, please read the document Changes to Benefits .


(for those living in a London borough - not Ashford or Staines)

16+ Oystercard
For students aged 16, 17 and 18

Free travel on all London buses and trams and half price on Tube (underground) and overground
If you are 16 or 17 you can get a paper application from the Post Office or apply online.
If you are 18 you must apply online.

18+ Student Oystercard
For  students aged 19 or over on a full-time course for at least 14 weeks (check with the Information Centre if you are not sure whether your course is full-time).
This card will give you a 30% discount on all weekly, monthly or annual travelcards. It will not give you a discount if you use Pay as You Go.

Apprentice Oystercard
For apprentices aged 18 or over and on an apprenticeship for at least 12 months.
Your apprenticeship must be in a London borough and you must live in a London borough.
It gives the same discounts as the Student 18+ Oystercard.
You cannot get this if you have one of the Oystercards above.

Bus and Tram Discount Photocard
You can get this card if you have been in receipt of Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance for at least 13 weeks.
It will give you a 50% discount on all London buses and trams. It does not give you a discount on trains.
For those on Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance, get a paper application form from the Post Office or apply online.
For those on Job Seekers Allowance get a form from your Job Centre.

Freedom Pass
or people with disabilities (including epilepsy). This pass gives free travel on London buses, trams, Tube (underground) and overground.
Apply via your local council or ask the Student Welfare and Support Adviser to print a form for you.

You cannot pay with cash on the bus.
Instead you can use an Oystercard, a contactless payment bank card or a 1-day travelcard.

For more information see

Free Meals at College

Students aged 16-18 as of 31 August 2016 may be eligible for free meals at college if they or their parents/guardians are in receipt of:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you are not entitled to Working Tax Credit) and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190 as assessed by HMRC
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit (during the initial roll-out of the benefit)

You may also be eligible if:

  • You are 19 or over and you have a Learning Difficulty Assessment (Section 139) or Education Health and Care Plan.

Residential Support Scheme

This scheme is run by the government to help students pay for accommodation if they cannot study their chosen course nearer to home. To find out if you qualify and to apply, contact the Learner Support Helpline on 0800 121 8989 or go to www.gov.uk

Please see the Student Welfare and Support Adviser for an application form.

Care to Learn (C2L)

Care to Learn can help young parents (aged up to and including 19) with the cost of Ofsted registered childcare and related transport costs. To find out if you qualify and to apply, contact the Learner Support Helpline on 0800 121 8989 or go to www.gov.uk/care-to-learn.

You can also speak to the college nursery on 020 8326 2318.

Professional and Career Development Loan

This is the same as an ordinary bank loan, but you won't have to start repaying the loan until you have finished your training. You can apply for this loan if your course will help with your career and lasts for two years, or possibly three if it includes one year's practical experience. If you are considering applying for a loan, you should be sure you can secure employment when your course finishes.

For more info visit www.gov.uk/career-development-loans or call 0800 100 900.


The Student Welfare and Support Adviser has a list of charities that may be able to assist students who are in financial difficulties. Each charity has its own criteria and application does not guarantee success, but some students have received help.

Part-time work

Another way of funding your education is through part-time work. Job vacancies are displayed in the Student Services area. The Careers Adviser will help you search for vacancies, give advice on CVs, job applications, writing letters, making phone calls, etc. Job advertisements can also be found in JobCentres, national and local newspapers. However, you should carefully consider the number of hours you spend at work and be certain that this will not interfere with your studies. Your benefits may also be reduced as the result of your income.

More Info

For more information and advice please call Student Services on 020 8326 2412, email StudentWelfare@west-thames.ac.uk, or talk to us when you enrol or come for your interview.


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