Over a third of students (35%) would have chosen not to go to university without the help of a maintenance grant, a survey by the National Union of Students (NUS) has found.
The news comes on the same day that the Independent Commission on Fees has released a report condemning the current student loan system, raising concerns over any proposed rise in tuition fees and revealing students’ growing fears over ever-mounting levels of debt.
Over 2100 students responded to NUS’ survey, with 52% of those in receipt of a maintenance grant deeming it absolutely essential to their attendance at university and a further 30% believing it to be important or very important.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has stated the Government’s proposed cut to maintenance grants, which 81% of respondents opposed, will mean the poorest students could graduate with a total of £52,000 worth of debt. This is a potential increase of £13,000 for those who would have previously qualified for the maintenance grant, something 69% of respondents felt would make it harder to enter into education.
Meanwhile, the government’s stated aim of widening participation across all sectors of society was given little credence by 65% of those surveyed, who felt the latest budget proposals would not help to achieve this.
With almost half of respondents (45%) finding it more difficult to manage their finances now than when they started at university, the loss of maintenance grants would plunge hundreds of thousands into further financial turmoil.
NUS President Megan Dunn said:
“It comes as no surprise that the students of this country recognize the profound and damaging effects the cut to maintenance grants would have. When a third of students are saying this cut would stop them going to university, the government needs to sit up and take note.
“That is why NUS has launched its #CutTheCosts campaign - local and national action must be taken in order to secure a U-turn on maintenance grants.
“We must also tackle the causes of this crisis and cut the costs that are pricing the poorest out of education. That’s why we will need to harness opposition party support and demonstrate widespread opposition to the government’s plans.”
Notes to editors
1. For press enquiries, please contact the press office by calling 07866 695010 or email email@example.com
2. National Union of Students is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions. We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.
3. NUS surveyed students in Higher Education in England between 20th and 29th July 2015. In total, NUS received 2186 valid responses.
4. The Independent Commission on Fees press office can be contacted on 020 7802 1660
5. Case studies, further data and NUS spokespeople are available on request.