Published On: Tue, Mar 8th, 2016

Maintenance loan axed

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When it seemed maintenance grants were already being distrusted sparingly, money worries have just become even more of an issue for university students in the U.K. The government scheme to support living costs of students from poorer and deprived backgrounds will be no more as of the 2016/2017 academic year.

The decision by the government to scrap the grant comes after last week’s protest opposing the plans, where students gathered outside of Parliament on Westminster Bridge, blocking the London tourist attraction for over half an hour.

Having been around for more than 50 years, the maintenance grant served to resolve money worries that could discourage potential students from going to university. The grant has been described by the National Union of Students as a ‘lifeline’ and have also said they feel both disappointed and betrayed by the decision. ITV presenter and money expert Martin Lewis took to Twitter to discuss the decision, describing the Tories as having “betrayed a generation of students.”

No maintenance loan will mean those 500,000 university students in England who would’ve been entitled to it will instead having a bigger, loan to repay and inevitably result in more debt when finishing their studies. Until now, students have been able to access a non-repayable grant of up to £3,387 each academic year to cover rent and costs of living.

A study by the University of Oxford’s Department of Education discovered that students from more advantaged backgrounds are over two times as likely to enrol in higher education as those students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Without this support mechanism there are fears that this divide will only continue to grow.

Back in 2012, tuition fees tripled in England from £3000 to the much larger sum of £9000 per year, resulting in substantially higher figures of debt for students than ever before.

Shadow education minister, Gordon Marsden, said: “When the government tripled tuition fees in 2012 they tried to sweeten the pill by talking up the centrality of the maintenance grant to ensure that the most disadvantaged could still access higher education.”

With the security of a non-repayable grant no longer accessible it’s thought a significant number of prospective students may be put off higher education.

City News reporters Alex Knight and Jess Nangle spoke to former LGBT officer at the NUS, Skye Yarlett on why minorities will be affected by the change in student loans.

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