From the Socialist Students:
New Labour caps new university places at 10,000 for next year
When Gordon Brown took over as prime minister in July 2007 part of his fanfare was that he increased the grants available for students.
Now the government has capped university places to 10,000, due to a budgeting crisis and the cost of borrowing to bail out the banks.
An expansion of grants came into effect with this year’s intake of students. Students from families with incomes of up to £25,000 are supposed to be entitled to the maximum grant of £2,825 a year (in reality bureaucratic, unfair means testing means many students miss out on money they are entitled to). The previous threshold was a family income of £17,500.
This year a third of students (showing what a low wage economy we live in) were entitled to the full grant. A further third of students with family incomes up to £60,000 a year receive a partial grant on a sliding scale, although this is has been cut to £50,020.
It appears New Labour have drastically underestimated the amount of poorer students who need to claim grants.
The money made available for these grants isn’t enough to meet the demand of by rising admissions which were up by 9.7% this year (for the first time this year UCAS figures included nursing students).
The government claims it is short of £100 million and that with a national debt piled up to £685 billion it can’t borrow anymore for public spending.
John Denham the Universities minister has devoted whole sections of his department’s website to lecturing students about managing their finances, perhaps some of his minions should take a look.
The admissions rise clearly reflects the aspirations of young people from poorer backgrounds to have the benefits of higher education. Many of whom will have had their fears about the cost of university and debt eased this year by New Labour’s promises of grants that may now prove to be empty.
Socialist Students has consistently warned that while we supported any increase in grants for students that these limited reforms would not be enough to meet the demand that exists, and that what New Labour promise or give to gain popularity for election purposes they soon try to take away.
If the number of university places is cut, or students find out they can’t get the money they were promised they were entitled to the government can expect huge anger.
Students will be asking what right the government has to take away the money that it promised them or stop them going to a university they want to go to because the government has bailed out rich bankers?
The NUS has stated its opposition to any cuts in grants or university places.
Good, but lets have some action! The NUS should follow the example of the USI (students union in Ireland) and the pensioners in Dublin who met the Irish governments budget cuts with a national demonstration.
Socialist Students says No to cuts in student grants and university places, For an immediate increase in public spending to meet levels of demand, Scrap all university fees and write off all student debt, for the introduction of a living grant for all and for a free, publicly funded good quality education system.