George Osborne recently announced plans for government education spending which he published in his Autumn Statement and spending review.
The biggest effect these changes will mean to young people are the plans to replace all student maintenance grants with student loans from September 2016.
From the beginning of the next academic year, there will be no grants available to students who decide to go on to higher education. The money will still be available to students but as a full maintenance loan from the Student Loans Company. This, in effect, will mean that students will have a higher amount of student debt on top of the current average of £44,035.
Maintenance grants are currently given to students who are from lower income families as extra support on top of their maintenance loan, which can cover food, travel and accommodation during their degree.
Individuals from families with an annual income of £25,000 or less receive the full grant of £3,387 a year, which does not have to be repaid. However, from next September students will be able to apply for a larger loan of £8,200 to cover their student bills. The loan amounts have increased, but the earning threshold has remained the same at £21,000 per year. The earning threshold is the amount a graduate must earn to begin their repayments of their student loans.
The National Union of Students (NUS) criticised the changes, stating that students taking out the full loan amount on a three-year undergraduate degree course “will graduate with over £51,000 of debt”.
NUS National president, Megan Dunn said: “Students are facing a crisis in the cost of study and living. These are not statistics on a spreadsheet, these are people who have to choose between putting food on the table and paying the electricity bill. These are people who will be forced out of education, losing often their only chance to empower themselves and their future”.
Other education news within the Shadow Chancellor’s Autumn Statement
The Shadow Chancellor announced details regarding the new ‘Apprenticeship Levy‘ which will be introduced from April 2017. According to the Chancellor this levy will raise £3 billion each year and will help to fund the apprenticeship target by 2020.
The Chancellor also announced changes being made to grants for state education, where in some parts of the country, schools are given less than £3,000 per pupil, with stark differences seen between rural and inner city areas.
Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan stated: “We want every child to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, no matter where they live, so we have taken the historic step to introducing a new national funding formula, to end unfair school funding by postcode”.
What are your thoughts about the education changes? Will they effect you? Did you receive a maintenance grant whilst attending university?
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