The government are planning to scrap maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds, replacing them with additional loans.
This change would mean that the poorest 40% of students going to university in England will graduate with debts of up to £53,000 from a three-year course, will impact on students studying at further education colleges, and will especially affect students from BME, disabled, older learners, women and Muslim backgrounds.
These sweeping changes – which were not in the Conservative election manifesto - were attempted to be forced through in committee rather than on the floor of the House of Commons, hidden away from public scrutiny.
Tomorrow, Labour will hold a debate and a vote on the floor of the House of Commons, to challenge the government and try and halt their decision to scrap maintenance grants for loans.
Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington, speaking ahead of the debate, said:
“Maintenance grants provide vital support for students from lower income backgrounds from Erdington, and ensure that poorer students do not leave university with greater debts than their more privileged peers; 42% of Erdington students at Birmingham City University alone who are trying to get on in life depend on the maintenance grant. But this could change if the Tories force through their plans.
“The government should be doing all it can to ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds reach their full potential. This change would do the opposite, and could make poorer students think twice about going into higher education due to the considerable debts they will rack-up in the process.”
Angela Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, responding to the scrapping of maintenance grants for loans for lower income students, said:
“Instead of investing in future generations the Tories are betraying students and making life harder for people from the poorest backgrounds, who would leave university with substantially higher debts than their better-off peers under these plans.
“Targeting those who are working hard and doing the right thing to better their lot in life leaves the Tories’ claim to back those who want to get on in tatters.
“The Tories have shown yet again that they’re governing from the shadows, trying to force through the sweeping changes in committee hoping that no one would notice.”