The funding, which was designed to help the poorest students through university, has been scrapped by the Tories
The Conservative government has now officially scrapped all student grants, after passing the policy through parliament without a proper vote.
The financial funding – which was put in place to help the poorest students through university – was put to a legislation committee on Friday last week, despite strong opposition. It was then passed without any vote or debate in the House of Commons.
“(This is) not simply technical tinkering, but a major change by the government,” said Gordon Marsden, the shadow universities minister. “It has been done without consultation, with warning signs already being flagged up by the department’s own equality assessment and wholly without the detailed and proper parliamentary scrutiny such a step-change demands.”
The move is set to affect over half a million university students from low income families, who had previously been given grants of up to £3,387 – an amount that’s barely enough to cover a year’s rent in some cities. Instead, they will now be offered more loans to cover any extra costs.
“This is a very frightening prospect for young people and their parents.... (The Tories) don’t understand what it is like to struggle” – Tim Farron
“I come from a divorced home where my mum's income is way below the national average despite her working full time,” graduate Emma Chorley told The Huffington Post. “Aside from the monumental mess Student Finance made of my loans in general, I don't know what I would have done without my maintenance grants. They were generous and essential to the huge amount of students who aren't able to call their parents to tap them up for money when they've run out.”
Given that the average student is now expected to walk away with a gargantuan £44,000 of debt, loading them with more seems almost sociopathic. However, George Osbourne has insisted that the cuts are “vital” – adding that they’re both “fair to students” and “fair to taxpayers”.
“(There is a) basic unfairness in asking taxpayers to fund the grants of people who are likely to earn a lot more than them,” the chancellor explained, after announcing the move. “(This is) vital to secure our long term economic future.” According to reports, he is also examining whether to abolish bursaries for student nurses and midwives.
“This is a very frightening prospect for young people and their parents,” said Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, after hearing about the plans. “This is a typical Tory reaction, they don’t understand what it is like to struggle.”
“We have worked to target support to the poorest students, removing that vital help will hurt those who need it most. Plans to cut maintenance grants are wrong and we will fight these plans tooth and nail. Social mobility is a real priority and these changes threaten to further entrench inequality.”