The Conservative government are planning to scrap maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds and replace them with additional loans.
This policy will hit the poorest 40% of students at universities in England, increasing the amount of debt they graduate with to as high as £53,000 for a three-year course. It will also affect students studying at further education colleges who may be discouraged from going to university.
These changes were not in the Conservative Party’s manifesto at the election in May 2015 so they do not have a mandate to make them. They have also attempted to avoid public and parliamentary scrutiny by forcing the changes through a small committee rather than calling a vote in the House of Commons.
Today Labour will hold a debate in the chamber to challenge the government on this policy and try to halt the abolition of maintenance grants.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Anna said:
“Every young person should be free, regardless of income, to access higher education and fulfil their potential.
"Maintenance grants are a vital support line for students from lower-income families in Redcar and Teesside to cover essential living costs while they study. Many students are already struggling to meet these costs and the extra debt may be enough to discourage some young people from going to university altogether.
"Education opens up so many opportunities in life and the government should be making it easier, not harder, for everyone to access it.”
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.”