IFS warns of the cost of scrapping the maintenance grant

The poorest 40 per cent of students in England will graduate from a three-year course with debts of up to £53,000


The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) is warning today that students from the poorest families will leave university owing ‘substantially more’ than their richer peers, due to changes in student funding.

The government’s decision to replace student maintenance grants with a repayable loan will result in the poorest 40 per cent of students in England graduating from a three-year course with debts of up to £53,000, rather than up to £40,500.

Faced with the prospect of such colossal debts, potential students without parental support will find it increasingly difficult to justify taking time off to study. And because the tuition fee cap was scrapped university costs could continue to rise, meaning the section of society able to enter higher education will get smaller and smaller over the years.

The IFS also suggests that the changes will actually make little difference to long-term government borrowing; the biggest reductions here will be gained by the decision to freeze the amount of money graduates earn before they have to start paying back their loans. The analysis estimates that graduates on median incomes will be hit the hardest by this, paying back over £6,000 more in 2016 money.

Commenting on the findings Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said:

“The government has created a situation where the poorest students that aspire to university will have to take on much larger debts and be hit with bigger annual repayments once they graduate. It is little more than a tax on aspiration and exposes this government as certainly not being on the side of the strivers.”

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter


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