Commenting on the Government's decision to increase hardship funding and award an uplift to the maintenance loan, Vivienne Stern MBE, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:
We welcome the government’s decision to increase hardship funding for the higher education sector. These are difficult times for students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, with caring responsibilities or estranged from families. Throughout this cost-of-living crisis, our members have stepped up to provide support to students, from daily meal deals to increasing hardship funding, universities are working hard to offer much needed help to students. This extra funding from the government will help to shore up their efforts.
The Government has also announced plans to award an uplift in the maintenance loan. Although it’s an increase, it does not make up for the real terms cut to maintenance that students have experienced since inflation began to rapidly increase. We need to look more closely at how well the current system is supporting students and what changes need to be made, currently the student maintenance package in England is at its lowest value in seven years. Students are also eligible for much lower maintenance loans than when the system was designed, as the parental earnings threshold has been frozen since 2008.
While frozen tuition fees will reduce initial student debt, the £9,250 fee is currently only worth £6,600 to universities. High inflation will reduce this value further, this is why we need a national conversation on how universities are funded.
Vivienne Stern MBE
Chief Executive of Universities UK