Labour MP Andrew Gwynne has spoken out following a Commons debate on the scrapping of student maintenance grants.
The Government is planning to scrap maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds, replacing them with additional loans.
This change would mean that the poorest 40% of students going to university in England will graduate with debts of up to £53,000 from a three-year course, will impact on students studying at further education colleges.
These sweeping changes – which were not in the Conservative election manifesto – were attempted to be forced through in committee rather than on the floor of the House of Commons, hidden away from public scrutiny.
On Tuesday 19 January, Labour held a debate and a vote on the floor of the House of Commons, to challenge the government and try and halt their decision to scrap maintenance grants for loans.
The vote narrowly failed, meaning that the abolition of maintenance grants will go ahead.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“Maintenance grants provide vital support for students from lower income backgrounds from Tameside and Stockport, and ensure that poorer students do not leave university with greater debts that their more privileged peers. But this could change now the Tories have forced through their plans.
“The Government’s own assessment shows that these cuts will have a disproportionate effect on disabled people, women, older learners and people from more industrial areas like Tameside and Stockport.
“The Government should be doing all it can to ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds reach their full potential. This change would do the opposite, and could make poorer students think twice about going into higher education due to the considerable debts they will rack-up in the process.
“I was proud to vote against the scrapping of student grants.”
Angela Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said:
“Instead of investing in future generations the Tories are betraying students and making life harder for people from the poorest backgrounds, who would leave university with substantially higher debts than their better-off peers under these plans.
“Targeting those who are working hard and doing the right thing to better their lot in life leaves the Tories’ claim to back those who want to get on in tatters.
“The Tories have shown yet again that they’re governing from the shadows, trying to force through the sweeping changes in committee hoping that no one would notice.”