Paul Blomfield MP

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I have called on the Government to reverse their decision to cut bursaries and impose fees on student nurses and midwives after new figures revealed applications for courses at Sheffield Hallam University had fallen by 22%.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, I reminded Ministers of my warning to the Government in January 2016 that plans to impose student debt of up to £50,000 on nurses and midwives would lead to a fall in applications.

At the time the then Health Minister, Ben Gummer, told members that the Government wanted to spread to nurses the same benefits that have been realised in the rest of the student population. Some of us expressed scepticism that nurses and midwives would see £50,000 of debt as a benefit.

And we warned that these were courses that still provided a route into professional careers from those who were put off university by fees – mature students and others from lower income backgrounds.

NHS-300x225.jpgThe new loans system for nurses will be introduced in September this year and final numbers for applications for courses were published last week. Sheffield Hallam University has seen a fall of 22%, a drop reflected across the country.

The Government has casually ignored the warnings. Now they’re ignoring the facts. At a time when we desperately need more nurses, there has been a massive drop in applications. The Government are knowingly adding to the crisis in the NHS.

Ignoring warnings led to massive drop in Sheffield nursing applications

I have called on the Government to reverse their decision to cut bursaries and impose fees on student nurses and midwives after new figures revealed applications for courses at Sheffield Hallam University...

Graduation.jpg

Today I challenged the Government to drop plans to increase the interest rate on student loans to an extortionate 6.1% and highlighted that students are already accruing an average of £5,800 in interest before they have even graduated. As the MP who represents more students than any other, this is an issue particularly important to me. 

In an emergency debate secured by the Labour Party on tuition fees, I strongly criticised the Government for planning for the interest rate on student loans to rise from 4.6% to 6.1%, which compares to base rate at 0.25% and average mortgages at less than 4%. The automatic rise is based on the formula of RPI+3%.

Students are accruing an average of £5,800 in interest during their studies before they even have a chance to start repaying. The greatest burden is on students from poorest homes. The Minister must press the Chancellor to scrap the proposed rise and to review the formula.

I also challenged other aspects of the Government’s approach to student finance, calling out their fraudulent behaviour in retrospectively changing the terms of repayment for student loans. I also made it very clear of the need for the Government to reinstate maintenance grants for students from lower income households.

Spiralling student debt has become a central issue in politics. The recent election was the first to be held since students who have to pay £9,000 fees started graduating. Students haven’t forgotten that it was the Tory-led Coalition Government that tripled fees to £9000. They won’t forget that a Tory Government scrapped maintenance grants and are overseeing the rise in the interest rate on student loans.

In every decision on student funding, the Government have got it wrong and hurt students. We need a fresh start and a new Government.

 

My call for student loan interest rate rise to be scrapped

Today I challenged the Government to drop plans to increase the interest rate on student loans to an extortionate 6.1% and highlighted that students are already accruing an average of...

Yesterday I warned an audience of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Educational Attachés that Parliament is poised to defeat the Government over the issue of international students.

Addressing the Embassy Education Conference in Central London I talked about the impact of Brexit on universities as well as developments in higher education policy through the new Higher Education and Research Act and the Teaching Excellence Framework. On the issue of international students, I issued a warning to the Prime Minister, saying:

Parliament’s support for a change of policy on international students is clear. Since 2010, no fewer than five Parliamentary Select Committees have recommended that the Government should take international students out of net migration figures. If the tactic before the election could be described as gently persuading the Government, the mood in this new Parliament is far less forgiving. The Prime Minister must recognise the potential for UK higher education as a global export. If she doesn't, Parliament will force her to.

I am co-Chair of the APPG on International Students, as well as Chair of the APPG on Students and Secretary of the All Party Universities Group, and have long campaigned for the Government to change its approach to international students. You can find out more about my work on student issues here and education and skills here

 

 

PM must re-think on international students

Yesterday I warned an audience of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Educational Attachés that Parliament is poised to defeat the Government over the issue of international students.


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