The end of student maintenance grants.

‘Students starting university courses in England will no longer be able to apply for grants towards living costs.

Under changes that came into effect on Monday, grants for students from low-income homes are replaced by loans.

Previously, students from families with annual incomes of £25,000 or less received a full grant of £3,387 a year.

The National Union of Students said the move was "disgraceful" and meant poorer students would be saddled with a lifetime of debt.

The switch from grants to maintenance loans was announced in July 2015 by the then Chancellor, George Osborne, in his Budget.

Mr Osborne said at the time that there was a "basic unfairness in asking taxpayers to fund grants for people who are likely to earn a lot more than them".

Speaking in January, the then Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said the maintenance grant change "helps balance the need to ensure that affordability is not a barrier to higher education, while ensuring that higher education is funded in a fair and sustainable way".’ - BBC News

‘Education experts have expressed fears that the abolition of the student maintenance grant for the poorest young people, combined with increasing tuition fees, will set back widening participation and deter those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds from going to university.’

‘The scrapping of the grant comes as the government puts pressure on universities to widen participation rates to attract those from the poorest backgrounds – in particular white working-class boys who are the least likely group to go to university.

Higher education experts are concerned that the switch to a loan, just as universities are announcing plans to raise tuition fees beyond £9,000 a year, will damage progress in widening participation and lumber those who choose to go to university with even greater debt.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University College Union (UCU), said: “Cost does matter and there is a very real danger that raising tuition fees combined with the ending of maintenance grants will damage progress made by widening participation initiatives.”

She said recent UCU research showed that when young people choose to go to university, those from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to put cost at the forefront of their decision-making, often opting for institutions close to home that offer cheaper study that can be combined with part-time work.’ - The Guardian


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