I questioned the Education Secretary on the Government’s long overdue response today to the Augar Review, which was commissioned back in 2018 to evaluate the current higher education funding model. 

It’s ironic that Ministers are now saying that the student finance system, introduced by the Conservatives in 2012, is “unsustainable” – as many of us argued at the time. It’s disappointing that their approach now is to make graduates pay the price, with the lowest earners being hit hardest by the changes – as confirmed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. 

The main beneficiaries of cutting interest rates will be the Treasury, and those higher earners who pay back the loans in full.  

Reducing the repayment threshold will hit lower earners hard as they face all the costs of setting up home at the start of their careers. Extending the repayment period is a massive transfer of debt from the Treasury to graduates. 

In addition, freezing tuition fees, without additional teaching grant, reduces resources available to universities and means future students will be paying more for less. 

Philip Augar’s important proposal for the reintroduction of maintenance grants for the poorest students has been quietly dropped and there’s nothing to address rising living costs, which affect those without family support the most. 

I raised this with the Education Secretary, who disappointingly gave no meaningful commitments to improving support for lower-income students and graduates. 

I’ll continue to fight for a fairer student finance system which allows everyone who wants to access higher education. 

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