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Tax-break debt-buster in pipeline for architecture students

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A new initiative which could give Part 2 students a welcome cash boost during their year out is about to be launched in the North West.

The new academic allowance scheme could effectively double the money students take home while 'in practice' - potentially up to £15,000 (tax-free) - over the nine-month academic year.

Already backed in theory by the Inland Revenue, the student's 'pay' would be classed as a tax-free educational allowance and would qualify for tax exemption as long as the course 'benefited' the practice.

Although details are still sketchy, it is understood a further duty-free £3,000 could be paid by the practice towards student tuition fees.

If successful, the prototype, which is being trialled by the Manchester School of Architecture in January, could be rolled out across the county in a few years' time.

The brainchild of RIBA North West education chair John Hickey, the scheme has been well received by officials at Portland Place and president Jack Pringle ensured the initiative received research funding.

Bonnie Chu, from student representative body Archaos, was delighted by the news and suggested the move could cut down the time students take to qualify.

She said: 'This is a very, very interesting development. A lot of Part 2 students have to work on the side anyway, and to handle the increasing debts they are taking longer to complete the course.'

Read this week's AJ (12.10.06) for a detailed look at how the scheme might work.

by Richard Waite

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