A waste of Pounds 1 billion?

December 12, 1997

THE prospect of a Pounds 1 billion sweetener for the eventual "purchaser" of the Student Loan debt (THES December 12) borders on the offensive. Time was when such practice was seen to be competitive, encouraging the dynamic private sector to take on board crumbling state giants. No such new-right sophistry is employed in these caring times, however. Honesty prevails, and thus we find that the loan book is being sold to save money.

The new student support regime has been justified on the basis that it is significantly fairer. Fine. However, instead of seeing these current repayments as a scandal to be tackled, the government's response is to sell them, down the river, one might say.

Why not use this Pounds 1 billion to cover transition costs to change existing student loan repayment terms into the new proposed terms? It would be fairer and more just. No doubt some would point to legal difficulties. Then again, some of us still believe that governments are elected to govern and to show the appropriate political will.

David Boyle, Academic and postgraduate adviser, Lancaster University Students' Union

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