Yesterday, as announced in his budget, Chancellor George Osborne said he was planning to make cuts to maintenance grants for students and I felt it important to outline what exactly a maintenance grant is and how it will effect students.
Maintenance grants, unlike loans, don’t have to be repaid. You can receive as much as £3,387 a year and it is calculated by your current household income. You only receive a grant if your household is earning less than around £43,000 a year, even though most parents who earn that sort of income can’t actually provide for their children once they’re at university. It basically just proves how much politicians are completely out of touch with the real world. I’d like to see George and his wife surviving off an income of £43,000 a year whilst also paying for the maintenance of his two children whilst they were at university.
It makes absolutely no sense, to be quite honest. Even though, in the eyes of the law, at 18 you are considered very much an adult, you still have to submit the financial information of your parents in order to receive any money out of them.
A maintenance grant, however, is different to a student loan. Every student qualifies for a student loan no matter what their household income is, and this covers the crippling cost of the £9,000 a year fees. This is paid back once the student has graduated and is earning over £21,000.
Most people have been up in arms about these changes to maintenance grants and say that it will only put people from poorer backgrounds off going to uni. They also said the same thing when student fees went up to £9,000 a year, but Osborne claimed yesterday that more people than ever from disadvantaged backgrounds are going to university despite the rise in costs. Osborne also said that he didn’t think it was fair for taxpayers to be paying for student grants when the student, once graduated, will probably be earning more than the taxpayer in the first place. It’s all a bit confusing and I don’t really know whose side to take.
As far as I’m concerned, education is the most important thing for a progressive society, such as ourselves, to invest in. Education provides so many opportunities, and if there was more money spent on a better education system in the UK, I don’t think that there’d be the disenfranchised youth that there is today. There are far too many kids being failed through the ‘system’ and it’s a huge problem for our society, who will in one way or another, be picking up the cost for it in the future. It’s about time we took a leaf out of Finland’s book in terms of education, who have no tuition fees and encourage children to be unique.
In the UK, children are herded, one after another, through an education system which only betters those who are
already at the top of the class, already from a decent background, and leaves all those at the bottom in a big heap back to where they started.
It is a shame that this particular government doesn’t seem to realise how hard these cuts will effect young people. In most other modern societies, children and students are seen as ‘the future’ and should be encouraged to constantly want to better themselves through the education system. Instead, Osborne, Cameron and Co are treating us with utter disregard.