George Osborne’s summer budget announced that student maintenance grants, designed to help poorer students with their university living costs, were to be abolished. Last week this decision was approved, however despite extremely strong opposition, it was not discussed or voted on in the House of Commons.
Currently, grants are available to students whose current household income is £25,000 or less. Unlike tuition fee loans, the grants do not need to be paid back when students have graduated. The amount of the grant depends on household income, with families earning at the higher end of the £25,000 threshold receiving less of a helping hand from the government than someone at the lower end. The move means over half a million university students from lower income families will be affected.
The new scheme will instead offer these students bigger loans to replace any extra costs. Students will be able to borrow up to £8,000, however, this will need to be paid back once the student is earning over £21,000 a year.
The move to cut these grants has resulted in much opposition and criticism. It has been argued that the government are discouraging poorer students to apply for university as they are essentially making the access and application process harder and more unfair for those more in need of financial support.
Megan Dunn, national president of NUS has backed the campaign to keep student grants, claiming that the government’s belief that these changes would not affect students from poorer backgrounds is “simply not true”.
However, many also believe that this change is a good thing; a stand against taxpayers paying for other people’s education and funding students doing degrees that they feel are ‘nonsense’. George Osborne has said that the cut to student grants are both “fair to taxpayers” and “fair to students”.
by Ciara Snowball