As a current final year university student I know full well how grants have helped me get through university. I know studying a degree can sometimes be seen as out of reach for a number of people, which is why the student grants have been vital in helping people like me get through university and manage our home lives. Thanks to the policies of the last Labour government, many of us from a poorer background were able to get to and get through university.
The Tories are now looking to scrap the student maintenance grant without even having a vote in parliament on the issue. If this is passed we will see the poorest students leave university with even more debt, at the same time as ever-rising tuition fees.
For me, education is the foundation of equality and opportunity. While this government continues to preach this principle, they continuously raid the pockets of the young members of our society – just like the national “living wage” not applying to under 25’s. We must provide equal opportunities if we are to give our future generations a chance, and this begins with education. Personally I’m terrified of the future prospect that my children will reach university age and be priced out of their potential aspirations.
While maintenance grants had their imperfections, with many middle-income families feeling the brunt of the sharp thresholds, the answer was to reform this flaw as Labour suggested, not to remove all help to those most in need. Without maintenance grants I may have decided against university and missed out on my dream career. Let’s have an education system that works for all and not simply those that can afford it.
Ben Pickles, Bingley Branch member, February 2016