University Debts – A Millstone For Students, Especially From Poorer Families

Is it any surprise that young people from poor families are put off from going to university due the debts they will incur from large fees and maintenance loans? For me the answer is No. When you have seen over the years your family struggling to make ends meet, or where debts hanging over you is a severe worry, you will be far more cautious about getting yourself into university debts. Poorer students who bite the bullet and go to university still have to find a part time job to get by. I was lucky I applied for a grant for about £1,200 from Lewisham Council, and lived at home when I went to university. When I finished there were far more opportunities for jobs. It is a very different situation now where course fees are £9,250 a year, and it is becoming extremely hard to get a graduate job. This current generation is the first generation where they will be worse off than their parents, and grandparents if we stay on this Tory government austerity trajectory.

We need a parity of esteem for apprenticeships and graduate qualifications. We should not be saddling our young people with a debt which will have a knock on effect on their future. We need to have good quality jobs for our young people and graduates. I don’t think students  should be penalised, and for those from poorer families, who have the talent and desire to go to university, the decision to go is just so much harder because the debts they would have afterwards. We have moved to a USA style of paying for university without the high number of grants and bursaries available. 

I am pleased that the Labour manifesto for this year’s election removed the burden of university fees for students. 

There is a lot of work that needs to be done on student financing so that they are able to survive on a day to day basis while at university. Many students and parents cannot afford the extremely expensive student accommodation. Not all students can find part time jobs, or can risk taking one as the demands of their studies means they cannot get a job that will divert their time away from their studies. The worries of making ends meet for students affect students anxiety levels and mental health. 

I feel extremely guiltily every time my son had to apply for his student loans, which does not cover the cost of accommodation, books, housing, or food: the bare necessities to get through his course. The debt he is building up is a worry to me and I know this is a grave concern to him. It does not have to be a necessary evil with the right government – a Labour government in place with the right policies and system which put students first. 

If you want to know more about this you can click on the BBC News Article: Higher tuition fee debt ‘deters poorer students’

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