The average Welsh student could potentially pocket £7,000/year in maintenance grants from September 2018 under plans by the devolved government - with students from higher-income families each receiving a grant of at least £1,000/year.

The shake-up of the Welsh student finance system will provide a boost for all students from Wales who are heading to university, although new means-tested grants and loans will be of particular benefit to students from lower-earning families.

This follows the publication in September of an independent review by Professor Sir Ian Diamond, whose recommendations will be implemented with minor changes.

Under the plans, referred to as the Diamond package, the average Welsh student could receive £7,000/year in maintenance grants. It's estimated that around 70% will be eligible for some means-tested support, with about 35% being eligible for the maximum grant.

The top rate grant and loan support will be £8,100 for a student living away from home outside London and £10,125 for those in the capital.

Meanwhile, those from a household earning above £59,200 will only receive the universal £1,000/year maintenance grant.

The payments, which will be made monthly, could begin for students starting university in September 2018, pending a consultation, approval from the Treasury and the ability of the Student Loans Company (SLC) to put the new funding system into place.

What is the existing student finance system for Welsh students?

As things stand, Welsh students who study at a publicly-funded university or college can be charged a maximum of £9,000.

A tuition fee loan can be taken out to cover the first £3,900, however if your university or college charges more than this, you can apply for a fee grant of up to £5,100 to cover the difference (so basically, you get a loan for the first £3,900 and the Welsh government pays the rest).

The tuition fee loan and fee grant aren’t income assessed, which means that your entitlement for these doesn’t depend on your household income.

Welsh government set to deliver 'progressive and fair' student finance system

Kirsty Williams, Welsh government Education Secretary, said: "We are looking to introduce the most generous and progressive system anywhere in the UK. If you want to go to university, this system will allow you to do so. Academic ability should determine whether you go to university, not your social background.

"Students from Wales will be supported to meet their daily living costs; something they continually tell us puts them off going to university.

"I am proud to confirm our intention to deliver the first system in the UK that is consistent, progressive and fair in its support for full and part-time undergraduates and for post-graduate students.

"We have looked closely at Professor Diamond’s recommendations and have accepted the great majority, while also committing to look further into some of the other proposals. We have decided to limit the increase to the upper household income threshold for means-tested support to £59,200, as we feel this would be sensible and prudent given the current financial outlook for the public sector in Wales.

"Our proposals are a fundamental shift so that Wales can develop a higher education funding and student finance system that really does provide for all."

Additional reporting by the Press Association.