Dear Leeds Beckett Students,
As I know you will be aware, in the emergency budget on 8 July the Chancellor announced the Government’s plans to scrap maintenance grants for students going to university from 2016/17, replacing them with loans.
On announcement day, we at Leeds Beckett Students’ Union made the decision to look into the announcement further and, more importantly, to work with our university to really understand exactly how these changes will affect our student demographic.
We found that 56% of our eligible students will be affected by this change. That pretty much means that if you are stood next to a fellow student in one of our hallways, most likely one of you will be affected by this budget announcement.
We also found about a student grant that is not being discussed: The Special Support Grant. Although the number of people being affected by this change is smaller, they are amongst the most needing of grants in our university community, often people with disability needs or care responsibilities. These grants are essential support for these students, helping them to progress and succeed once at university. The removal of these grants could present a significant further hurdle for them in the challenge of completing their studies.
For students at our university, maintenance & student support grants enable thousands of people from low income backgrounds to participate in education. It isn’t extra pocket money. They pay for day to day essentials like food, transport, books, assistance and rent. They make being a student possible.
To take away these grants and saddle the poorest and most disadvantaged students with even more debt proves widening participation initiatives are now severely at risk in education. We at Leeds Beckett University take pride in our widening participation efforts; allowing higher education to transform lives for the better, without your background being a barrier. We feel these changes would dissolve what is one of our strongest pride points in 35.7% of our students coming from Widening Participation backgrounds.
To put this change into perspective, the poorest 18 year olds entering higher education today will have £12,500 less non-repayable support than the same student five years ago. This we just cannot accept. This severely restricts choices and limits opportunities. It’s simply unfair.
This is why we at Leeds Beckett Students’ Union, and additionally, Leeds Beckett University, have taken the decision to stand against these changes, to stand up for the student stood next to us in the hallway.
I can say with pride that we proudly both add our names to the NUS #CutTheCosts campaign on opposing these changes.
You can also, please share this statement to support our fight against the scrapping of grants.
UPDATE ON CURRENT WORK
- Leeds Beckett University have agreed to stand with Leeds Beckett Students’ Union on opposing these changes.
- We are signing a public statement, coordinated by the National Union of Students, calling on the government to protect our poorest students. We will be asking our Vice-Chancellor to co-sign this.
- We have already written to Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West MP) & Hillary Benn (Leeds Central MP) to express our concerns about this move and to call for MPs to stand against these regulations to ensure that a full debate in Parliament is held.
- Greg Mulholland has already written back in complete agreement with our views; we are still waiting on a response from Hillary Benn.
Link to NUS #CutTheCosts press release: http://www.nus.org.uk/en/news/press-releases/nus-launches-cutthecosts-campaign/