Fees and loans hiked but maintenance support is frozen

Government says low inflation justifies grant decision. Rebecca Attwood reports

July 2, 2009

Students and universities have criticised the Government’s decision to increase university tuition fees by 2.04 per cent next year while freezing maintenance support.

In a statement today, David Lammy, the Higher Education Minister, said fees would increase to £3,290 a year in 2010-11, and fee loans would rise to cover the move.

However, maintenance support for full-time students would not change, “reflecting the current low-inflationary environment”.

“In these difficult economic times, we are continuing to take difficult decisions in the interests of students, universities and taxpayers alike,” he said.

Diana Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “It is unfortunate that the Government has had to take this decision to hold maintenance support at 2009-10 levels for 2010-11.

“We recognise that inflation is low… but were it to rise, we hope that in the interest of students, the Government would reconsider.”

The University and College Union said the announcement would do little to persuade people that the Government is serious about protecting education during the recession.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, said: “This is a kick in the teeth for the thousands of people who have already applied to university. We should be doing all we can during these difficult times to make education and learning as accessible as possible.

“For all the Prime Minister’s warm words and promises that education would not become a victim of the recession, we have yet to see any action to back up his rhetoric.”

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said: “Students are already racking up thousands of pounds of debt, and in a recession every penny counts. It appears that the inflation rate is being applied where it suits universities, but not where it will improve student support.

“In the context of the current recession, these real-term cuts in student support will be felt in students’ pockets.”

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com

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