Universities UK has responded to today’s Budget which included an announcement that maintenance grants for students in England will be replaced by loans of up to £8,200 (plus London weighting) from 2016-17, paid back after graduates earn above £21,000.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “The increase of up to £8,200 per year in the cash available for students’ living costs will be welcome. Evidence has shown that students are more concerned about the level of maintenance support they receive while studying, than they are about the long-term repayment of their student loans. The Universities UK board called last week on government to increase the amount of financial support for students’ living costs.
“The proposed shift from maintenance grants to loans does not in itself affect the money students receive for their living costs. It does affect the amount of money they pay back after they have graduated and are earning more than £21,000.
“The priority for Universities UK will be to ensure that any changes to the current student funding system in England do not deter students from poorer backgrounds from applying to university. It is vital also that such a funding change is properly communicated so that potential students and their families are fully aware of the financial support available and how the student loans system works.
“With skills, jobs, productivity, education and research high on the government's agenda, it is clear that universities have an important role to play in this aim. But they can only do this if they are properly funded.”
Universities UK called last week [1 July 2015] on government to improve financial support for students’ living costs. The board called also for the tuition fee cap in England to be allowed to rise in line with inflation.
One of the main recommendations of the recently published final report from the Student Funding Panel was for the level of financial support for students’ living costs to be increased. The panel was established last year by Universities UK to consider the design of the current student fees and loans system in England.
In the run-up to today's emergency Budget and the spending review in the autumn, Universities UK called on government to invest in higher education and research. Setting out its case in a new document Why invest in universities? published on 25 June, Universities UK warned that the UK’s world-leading universities and internationally-renowned research will fall behind key competitors without sufficient and sustained investment.