As MP for the constituency with the highest number of students in the country, Chair of the APPG on Students and Secretary of the APPG on Universities, I pressed the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss MP, for a fundamental review of student funding, following the Office for National Statistic’s decision to treat student fees and maintenance loans in the Government’s accounts, adding £12 billion to the national deficit.
“The ONS decision has exposed what many of us have argued since 2010: the Government’s funding system is based on an accounting trick that imposes debt on students and the public purse. The truth is that there is no cost-free way of funding higher education, but the danger is that the Government will respond to the ONS decision by reducing their own liability at the expense of students and universities. Does the Chief Secretary agree that Philip Augar should not be deflected and that we need a comprehensive review of the student funding system that takes account of students from low-income households, part-time and mature students, nurses and midwifery students, and further education?”
It is disappointing and, frankly, revealing, that the Minister did not answer the question I put to her. I warned the repeatedly Government since 2010 that their treatment of student loans hid the real costs. Now the truth is out. There is a £12bn black hole in the public finances. We need a fundamental review of student finance to ensure it delivers for all students, provides the funding needed by our colleges and universities, and is sustainable for the public purse.