Two days ago, it was announced that student grants – financial aid designed to help destitute students through university – have been scrapped. Abolished. Discontinued. Terminated. Finito. Any sort of maintenance fees will now be accessible through loans. We asked people who are affected by this on what they think, and the results were indeed eye opening, to say the least. Students, parents, and teachers alike, told us their opinions and perspectives on this rather serious act voted upon by our Conservative government. Read them below.
“It’s a very bad idea because it used to be the case that if you worked hard, and if you had the ability, you could go to university, and you know, do a service to your country to become whatever – a doctor, engineer, a teacher. Now, a lot of people are obviously put off, thinking that it’s gonna cost a lot of money to go to university. So a lot of people who might be very good, very talented are gonna be put off with the thought of being in a massive debt.” Mr Ulrich-Oltean, teacher
“I think it should be available to all students irrespective of how much money they’ve got. But particularly, it is absolutely vital for students, on a lower income houses. They’re expecting students to pay their own way through education and I honestly think that’s fundamentally wrong. Education is a right and they should have it for free, regardless of whether you’re well off or not. ” Russell Bathgate, teacher
“What it does is make university exclusive to the upper class, which will only lead to the current generation of young people in more poverty in future years. I’d say it’s wrong to make someone ‘buy’ their education which is essentially what’s happening with the higher fees & especially the scrapping of grants which isn’t fair on the young people it would effect-as it limits their opportunities in life before they’ve had a chance to do anything with it” Rudi Laredo, sixth form student
“The university grants are gone but it just becomes a loan instead so nothing to worry about. Most people won’t pay it back” Jordan Fisher, sixth form student
“Well it’s annoying because I’m from a working class family and maintenance grants would help out with the necessities. It puts more stress on my family and me to help put me through the process” Josh Gill, sixth form student
“Coming from a childhood where money was scarce this just turns me off going to university and I feel a lot of people in my position would too.” Aklaq Haque, sixth form student
University is beneficial to not only the students but also the businesses that employ graduates.
“I think it’s a shame that money is spent elsewhere yet pulled from this. The number of students coming from those [lower income] households may not be as big as the media are gonna report. They will highlight how this is a really bad thing for lots of people, but for many people they wouldn’t be eligible for that grant anyway. It won’t affect as many people and I hope it doesn’t put people off from choosing to go to university. But it is a shame as we pay a lot of money goes directly to families on lower income, but when children from those families choose to go to higher education, that’s when the support is withdrawn.” Laura Malkinson, teacher
“I think it’s bad, but not horrendous. The way that loans are set up, people won’t even notice it go out of their money. It’s one of them that there’s two sides of the coin, but I can’t really make an insightful comment unless I was put in that situation” Hassan Saleh, sixth form student
“Well, I’d like to say the fucking conservatives need a slap. They are inconsiderate of the many aspiring lower class youths trying to break free from the struggle” Michelle, sixth form student
“The most annoying thing about the removal of grants is how it was done. The underhanded cabinet meeting of 17 people – I think 9 of whom were Conservative MPs – to decide the future of more than five hundred thousand was disgusting” Jamie Edwards, sixth form student
“I’m an economics teacher, there’s the financial realities of things – they’re cutting down the NHS, they’re cutting schools.”
“Overall, the scrapping of grants is neither good nor bad, obviously increasing the total but keeping grants would’ve been the best option but probably unfeasible, it’s the way they did that that annoys me.” Matty, sixth form student
“I think it’s a real shame considering the government should understand that university is beneficial to not only the students but also the businesses that employ graduates. University grants were heavily depended on by some students and they’ve kind of been left to deal with the financial side of university by themselves which is a hassle in itself. It sucks to be honest” Isra Hussain, sixth form student
“Well, the whole point of going to university is so I can be in a position to become a higher earner. The perceived advantage of having more money as a student, I feel, won’t pay off as a young person with the ambition and drive to be a higher earner” Gemma Birks, sixth form student
“It depends on the university but generally I don’t think it makes that much of a difference even if you’re from a middle to low class background as you can, in some cases, get a larger loan. Universities also often provide some level of support depending on your situation. Grants aren’t the be all and end all is what I’m saying” Matthew Cowley, sixth form student
“What they’re doing is wrong, they’re not taking into account what the public think. When the government is put into place they are obviously supposed to be a reflection of the people’s opinion but by this abolishment of grants it’s shown us again that we can never trust our own government or politicians. They’re just “dudes” making themselves richer. It’s as if they want to take us back to the Victorian times where the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. What happens then if you’re not able to afford.” Panashe Nowa, sixth form student
“I think with the government scrapping the grants is absolutely selfish! What will this achieve? Only time will tell… when your son or daughter requires any sort of expertise that requires a University degree. This may be the downturn that you have caused…” Chung, stylist
“Okay so basically, the abolishment of grants is basically just a device to increase the gap between the rich and the poor. It’s clear that lower income families are less likely to go to university now. I feel that education is becoming more of a privilege than a right.” Nina, sixth form student
“It frustrates me that there seems to be a huge amount of cutting in public services – full stop. And certainly, I have massive reservations when they put the tuition fee up to 9,000 pounds, that they were gonna make higher education – education – something that had to be a financial decision. I’m an economics teacher, there’s the financial realities of things – they’re cutting down the NHS, they’re cutting schools. I think that this is a problem given that they put up tuition fees in the argument that anyone that needed the money can get maintenance allowance and grants.” Ben Harding, teacher
So there you have it. You can get involved in the discussion by letting us know what you think by commenting below or hitting us up on our Instagram (@noabbott).
photographs: Stephanie Kalber/Demotix/Corbis, Christopher Furlong/Getty, RAAA/ZDZ/WENN.com, Ben Stansall/Getty Images, Jacob Chabeaux