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13 July 2015

Changing grants to loans will hit the poorest students

The sums don't work - and the losers are students, argues James Elliot.

By James Elliott James Elliott

announced in last week’s budget, with the proposal to abolish maintenance grants for students from the poorest families and to replace them with loans.

the poorer you are, the more money you have to take out as a loan, plus interest. That interest, accrued over time, is effectively a charge on the student for being from a low-income family.

Osborne’s budget document set out that measures to improve teaching will include, “allowing institutions offering high teaching quality to increase their tuition fees in line with inflation from 2017-18, with a consultation on the mechanisms to do this.”

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original speech at UUK about ‘financial incentives’, but Osborne has made it clear in the budget this means fees. John Morgan of the Times Higher Education has made an educated guess that a fee rise will be delayed until after ‘English Votes for English Laws’, which would make sneaking a fee rise through for English universities much easier.

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) from 2016/17, are partly financial and partly ideological. Namely, they are a market-worshipping response to a financial problem for a government unwilling to stump up the cash to pay for Higher Education. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which Universities sits under, has been asked to find another £450m of cuts, while student numbers are increasing and vice-chancellors pay packets evade any belt-tightening.

cost just as much to the Treasury as the old £3,000 system, and could end up costing more.

abolishing fees and properly funding education through general taxation, the Tories are continuing on the road to the recommendations of the 2010 Browne Report, which was to remove the cap on tuition fees altogether, shift all funding onto the student in the form of fees and loans, and let the market rule in a privatised university sector.

“students at the heart of the system”, nor is it Johnson’s “teaching at the heart of the system” – this is profit at the heart of the system, and we will pay the costs.

National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.