Student Debt February 2016

Thank you for contacting me regarding student debt.

Unfortunately, the fewest number of young people to University of any constituency in the UK and now the Conservative Chancellor is making the problem much worse by taking away their grants – an enormous incentive for the low income families struggling to get children to University. I – the son of a Nottm North miner – would not have gone to higher education but for the grant. The Conservative Government is smashing the aspiration of our young people on the estates of Nottm North. The Government must re-consider keeping the grants for the poorest 10% of students or their talk of social mobility will be revealed as a sick joke.

The Government’s plan to convert student maintenance grants into loans has to be reversed for the poorest students. The decision was made last month in a committee, instead of through a full change in legislation, and was voted through without debate. It did not receive the usual level of scrutiny and it does not have to go to the House of Lords for further debate.

According to UCAS, Nottingham North is the constituency that sends the fewest number of young people to university with just 11% reaching that level of education. Almost all (85%) rely on getting the full or partial grant to be able to keep body and soul together while they take their university course. Having to take loans will leave them with more debt (they already have to borrow to pay fees) and is more likely to stop them from applying for university all together.

I hope the Government will look again at this decision. They have passed it through the back door without proper scrutiny. The fact is that precious few young people in my patch go to university and I fear that this number will drop further if the incentive of a grant is taken away. It costs thousands of pounds to support yourself through university and the figures show that 63% of students in Nottingham receive a full grant with a further 22% receiving a partial grant one of the highest levels in the UK because of the high number of low income families.

Thank you again for writing me and for sharing your views. I can assure you that I will follow this matter closely.