On the 8th of July 2015, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in his budget speech that maintenance grants will be cut entirely from 2016-17, and will be replaced by maintenance loans.
Image credit: www.theguardian.com
Grants & loans, what's the difference?
• 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 £25,000.
• NUS (National Union of Students) understands that currently, approximately 500,000 students rely on maintenance grants whilst studying in university.
• The government proposals would stop all grants from September 2016, replacing them with loans, resulting in the poorer students taking on further debt to fund their studies.
What do NUS think?
NUS National President Megan Dunn announced at #SU15 that her priority campaign this year will be #CutTheCosts. Over the coming months, NUS will be documenting the impact that these cuts are having on students, and will be taking this message to Westminster in a national lobby. Together with students' unions across the country they will deliver a united message to decision makers: Cut the Costs, not our futures.
What's their plan of action?
• Support you in taking action in your local area. Their campaign pack will give you the resources to build up this campaign in constituencies all over the UK.
• Coordinate a national constituency lobby of MPs in September.
• Highlight case studies from students all across the country through a campaign hub with more resources to help you take this message to your MP.
• Produce a fully comprehensive report into the scale of the challenges students face every day with rising costs.
• Come directly to students' unions in a campaign roadshow in towns and campuses across the country.
• Pressure the national political parties to oppose the cuts to grants and force a vote, not just a debate, in Parliament on the issue.
• Take their fight directly to Parliament by organising a national lobby in October to coincide with the national debate.
Why have these changes been proposed?
George Osborne exhorted young people to 'earn or learn' in his budget speech. He said the 'major set of reforms' of both welfare and education spending are vital to ensure Britain's long-term economic future. He then explained that the loans will have to be repaid under the same terms as existing tuition fee loans once a graduate earns over £21,000 a year. The maximum value of the loan will be increased to £8,200, but graduates will have to pay it all back.
As education is a devolved matter, these changes currently will not affect Welsh students unless the Welsh Government would deem them appropriate.
What am I doing and what can you do?
I'm asking you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what your opinion is on this matter. As your Welfare Officer, I am here to support and represent you. If there is a call for it I will write to Geraint Davies, Swansea West MP, and organise a campaign to raise awareness of this issue.
Please do get in touch, and I look forward to hearing from you!