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NUS launches #CutTheCosts campaign

Friday 17 July 2015

The National Union of Students has today launched the #CutTheCosts campaign, fighting the government’s draconian plans to scrap the maintenance grants providing vital support to over half a million students.

Today NUS says: #CutTheCosts, not our grants. 

During last week’s budget announcement, George Osbourne unveiled the government’s intention to scrap maintenance grants for full-time Higher Education students in England and replace them with a loans-based system – a move which will end the non-repayable state support offered to hundreds of thousands of students from lower income households every year, saddling poorer students with even more debt should they aspire to study.

We know that for many students, every day is already a struggle to meet the day-to-day costs of living. That’s why NUS is campaigning this year to #CutTheCosts that students face every day at their university, college, adult learning places and in the workplace. 

We must now face the reality that if the government gets its way and maintenance grants are replaced with loans, the impact will be detrimental to hundreds of thousands of the poorest students studying in England for years to come, and may place pressure on the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow suit..

What are maintenance grants and what are the proposed changes?

  • Maintenance grants are given to students from lower income households to help with their living costs.
  • The maximum grant is £3,387 per year for students whose household income is less than £25k.
  • NUS understands that currently, approximately 500,000 students rely on maintenance grants
  • The government proposals would stop all grants to new students from September 2016, forcing poorer students to take on further debt to fund their studies.

NUS will be supporting students’ unions over the next few days to lobby local MPs to call for a national debate on the axing of grants. We will be taking our fight directly to Parliament by organising a national lobby in October.

NUS National President Megan Dunn said:
“Living in rat-infested houses or even having to sleep in corridors cannot continue to be just a ‘fact of student life’ on campuses across the country. Students living on beans because they cannot afford healthy foods remains a punchline to a joke. It isn't a joke. It is a national scandal.

“That is why we must take local and national action 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 the government’s plans.”

A recent poll conducted by YouGov found that replacing grants with loans was the least popular measure in the budget, highlighting that the public do not back the reforms.

We cannot allow George Osborne to write off the most vulnerable, let down the future talent of this country and price students out of higher education – which is why saving maintenance grants that support the poorest students is our utmost priority.


Notes for editors

  1. For more information contact the NUS Press Team: 07866 695010