According to statements from cabinet insiders last week, plans to cut university grants to students from poorer backgrounds are likely.
The idea was raised in 2013 but blocked by then-deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. While cutting the grants could save around £2 billion over three years, whether this would save enough money to make the cuts worthwhile in the long run is debatable.
The grants currently go to around half a million students whose family income is less than £42 000, and is used by most to pay for basic living costs such as accommodation. Families who earn more than this amount fund the young people’s additional costs through university themselves.
This is yet another blow to equality in higher education, following the recent raising of tuition fees to £9000 a year in most UK universities. At Bringing Words to Life, we believe that access to potentially life-altering degrees should be for everyone, not only the young people who come from the wealthiest families. The hard work that education charities like ourselves do the help narrow the achievement gap for everyone will be negated if real financial barriers are put between young people and their futures.
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0