Let students benefit

May 14, 2004

Richard Wilson's letter (May 7) about UK postgraduates in poverty applies to many undergraduates. So why not let students who have low savings sign on with the Department of Social Security and also get housing benefit? A DSS claimant who has been unemployed for 12 months is forced to take one of several options, including an educational course. Yet this option applies only to vocational courses.

Students are already in education, and most aim to gain employment after their course. Extending benefits to them would make higher education available to all, regardless of income, and raise educational attainment as students would not waste time on endless grant applications and then spend study time working. The losers would be employers who rely on cheap student labour. Which does the UK need more, sweatshop labour or an educated workforce?

Hillary Shaw
Leeds University

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