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NUS stand against proposed cuts to Student Opportunity Fund

Wednesday 15 January 2014 NUS News

NUS responded this week to warnings of damaging cuts to the Student Opportunity Fund – payments that make it possible for universities to support the added costs of recruiting and supporting harder to reach students – as it appears the government are encouraging reductions.

It is understood that the Treasury and the Cabinet Office are pressing for imminent reductions as part of cost savings being imposed on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Student Opportunity Funding is fundamentally different from access funding, the majority of which is spent on necessary student financial support and which is generated through fee income.

We need hardly observe that those institutions that currently benefit from the Student Opportunity funds are the ones who do the majority of the heavy lifting in recruiting the students who are least likely to attend higher education and who have the most to gain from doing so. They are also the institutions who are least likely to set their fees at the highest level.

Toni Pearce, NUS president, said: “Cutting the Student Opportunity Fund is an absolute disgrace and, in the wake of cuts to the National Scholarship Programme, looks like the Government is backtracking on its commitment to support social mobility in favour of balancing the books on the backs of the poor.

“We already know that young people from the most advantaged neighbourhoods in England are still three times more likely to enter higher education than those from the most disadvantaged. Unfortunately, the Government’s sustained attacks on our education system do nothing to help young people with the financial practicalities of staying in college and moving onto higher education.

“When the Government is lavishing funds on for profit providers, it is particularly outrageous that it is once again stripping away opportunities from the poorest students.”

NUS and students' unions officers took to Twitter yesterday to demonstrate opposition to the proposed cuts.