The union accused the government of not tackling the root cause of student poverty, as the government announced a 2.5% maintenance loan increase.
The Government has today announced a one-off £10 million in hardship funding for students and 2.5% increase in maintenance loans in the 2024/25 academic year.
However, NUS UK has argued that this is not the uprate it seems. The Government have said that the 2.5% increase will match forecasted inflation, however the union has pointed out that inflation has far outstripped previous maintenance loan increases, and therefore students will face a real-term cut of 11% (or £1300) compared to 2020/21.
This comes just days after Martin Lewis advised the government that the successive under-inflation increases in maintenance loans is making universities inaccessible to students from poorer backgrounds.
Commenting, NUS UK Vice President Higher Education, Chloe Field, said:
“The £10 million being added to support students experiencing hardship is very welcome and is a result of students continually campaigning for increased government support during the cost-of-living crisis.”
“However, when 94% of students are cutting back due to the cost-of-living crisis, and 65% are cutting back on food, an extra £10 million in hardship grants is like putting a plaster on a gaping wound.
“Currently, the average student rent swallows over 99% of the average maintenance loan. Students need maintenance loans that will actually cover their needs, including rent, food, bills, and enriching activities such as socialising with friends.
“Without proper funding, we risk developing a two-tier system of student experiences, with students from wealthier backgrounds able to focus on their studies, while students from poorer backgrounds are forced to work over 20 hours per week on top of full-time study.
“While we welcome the £10 million the government announced today, hardship funds are only ever a sticking plaster over the wider issues students face. Only radical long-term solutions which eliminates student poverty and put higher education on a proper funding footing for the future will solve the systematic issues the sector is faced with and ensure all students, no matter their background, can fulfil their potential – free from financial and class barriers.”