Last week less twenty MP’s voted to scrap student maintenance grants. Currently half a million students receive money from the government in the form of a maintenance grant. I am included in that figure.
I knew from the get go that going to university would result in debt. I knew that. Due to my families financial situation I realised I would receive the highest amount of money in regards to the maintenance loan and grant. This also means when I leave university in three years I will be in more debt than my peers.
The maintenance grant I receive is basically what I use to pay for necessities like food, tea and books. My student loan is spent on my accommodation fees. The money I receive in the form of a grant basically keeps me alive and allows me to purchase resources necessary for study. The grant allowed me to move away from home and go to my first choice university without having to live on beans and toast crying about finances for three years.
Sure, scrapping the maintenance grant won’t really effect students, they’ll get the money in loan form. They won’t be getting ‘less’ money. To be quite honest this view is very basic and only takes into account the short term. Yes the fact the poorer students won’t be getting less money is a good thing, of course it is. It’s the debt they’ll be in afterwards that will cause issues. Poorer students will be in significantly higher dept than someone from a wealthier background. How is this fair? How is this not going to put people off from attending university? (Listen, David Cameron I know you’re still confident that students will still apply to university but stop)
University should be available for everyone, despite their financial situation. I personally would not have been able to attend any university, and definitely not the Russell Group university I got into, if I wasn’t receiving a student loan and grant. Going to university was a dream I held for at least a decade. The issue surrounding money didn’t concern me until about 2012 when tuition fees increased to £9000. Even then I still wanted to go, I knew student loans existed and because my cousins had recently attended. I knew the payment system wasn’t too harsh. I’ve accepted that in 3 years I will leave with over £40,000 in student debt and that’s not even counting the interest.
The fact is some students entering education in 2016 will have higher debt that that is unthinkable and so unfair. Would I be rethinking attending university if I was in their position? Absolutely. This decision to remove grants will effect thousands of people and should not have been in the hands of so few individuals.
I’m not sure what it’s like to go to university knowing that money won’t be an issue, and most of my friends don’t either. We’re in our first year and at least half of the people I know have already gone into their overdraft due to high accommodation and living costs. Yes, the student maintenance grants cost the tax payer 1.5bn per year but surely it is better to invest money into the higher education of our young people rather than in other areas (*cough* Syria air strikes and the trident programme *cough*).
Redbrick (Yes I wrote this, yes this is my university newspaper)