Student grants, which are so influential and important for many students in helping them to reason with the cost of going to university, are being scrapped and replaced by loans.
How terrible, you might say. But it gets worse. In order to push through the plans of scrapping the maintenance grants, which helps half a million students, there will be no Commons debate and no parliamentary vote. Instead of meeting in the house of commons to openly debate and discuss this issue like a ‘democracy’ ought to, it is being discussed in a small unknown room, where the Third Delegated Legislation Committee- A small group of MPs, which has a tory majority, will gather to consider the motion. But even if the committee did want to quash the proposals, they will have no power to do so. It is absolutely scandalous that such a major decision is being taken in this way.
As a student who relies heavily on student grants to survive university, its hard to comprehend the absurdity of the proposals, as the government sneakily tries to transfer these grants into repayable loans.
These grants were provided by the government to help those from the poorest backgrounds and alleviate the cost of making students pay more for their university degree. When the Coalition government increased tuition fees by trebling them to £9,000, we were told that the increase in maintenance grants for students ‘should ensure that the reforms do not affect individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds disproportionately’.
The current grants provide the right amount of finance for students to live off and have some disposable income. Yes, the proposals will Increase the amount of money that we receive, however with already a mountain of debt to contend due to the trebling of fees, the offer of alternative loans will make the situation even worse. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that the poorest 40% of students will now graduate with debts of up to £53,000 for a three year course, rather than £40,500 at present.
This is undoubtedly going to discourage poorer students from seeking out further education altogether, with further evidence from the IFS, who found that a £1,000 increase in grants created a 3.95% increase in university participation.
This is not a small technical alteration to the way students are being financially supported, it is a major change which could deprive many students in England the chance of going to university.
It is outrageous that this is being implemented, but it is even more outrageous with the manner in which it is being allowed. The Conservatives are ruining the opportunity of going to University for thousands of students- and its not right nor fair.
In a modern day society, it should surely be one of the main objectives of any government, regardless of the politics, that education be of paramount importance. And that future doctors, lawyers, teachers and politicians(!) be given equal support and the best opportunities to become part of the fabric that makes a better and successful society.