[Katie Noble | Entertainment Editor]
In July, Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced that maintenance grants were to be scrapped as part of the 2015 summer budget. From the 2016/17 academic year, maintenance grants will be exchanged for maintenance loans that must be paid back when a graduate earns over £21,000 per year.
The maximum loan available has also increased to £8,200, meaning that some students could be looking at debt of up to £52,000 after graduation. The current maximum is £3,387 with approximately 500,000 students relying on its help.
On July 17th, the National Union of Students launched their #CutTheCosts campaign as a reaction to this development.
The aim is to lower the everyday costs of university (e.g. food, transport, and course supplies) to offset the loss of grants. NUS President, Megan Dunn, said: “Living in rat-infested houses or even having to sleep in corridors cannot continue to be just a ‘fact of student life’. Students living on beans because they cannot afford healthy food remains a punchline to a joke.”
The NUS published survey findings showing that 35 per cent of students would not have chosen to go to university without the support of a maintenance grant. 52 per cent further stated that they find maintenance grants to be essential for their university attendance.
And on September 25th, NUS took the first steps in legal action against the government in regards to the scrapping of maintenance grants.
A judicial review pre-action letter was sent to the secretary of state for business. This letter demanded equality implications are considered before any further steps are taken to change the law. It also set out points where the NUS believe that the government has failed to meet its obligations to students.
Hertfordshire Students’ Union has also been getting involved with the #CutTheCosts campaign. Your elected officers have spoken to student representatives around the university to find out what the campaign means to them.
Herts SU have also asked MP Grant Shapps and the University of Hertfordshire’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Quintin McKellar, to stop the scrapping of grants.
Herts SU President, Jack Amos, said, “Many students at Hertfordshire and across the region rely on dependable, secure maintenance funding to stay in university. We cannot risk finding students unable to house themselves, feed themselves, or get themselves to lectures because their income is swallowed by the cost of living.”