Students hold national day of action over axeing of maintenance grants

Jo Johnson and George Osborne among MPs targeted by campaigners

September 18, 2015
Megan Dunn, president of the National Union of Students
Source: Will Bunce/NUS
Megan Dunn, president of the National Union of Students

Student campaigners are to lobby MPs across the country over the government’s plan to scrap maintenance grants.

George Osborne, the chancellor, Jo Johnson, the universities minister, and Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, are among the parliamentarians set to be targeted by students’ unions and anti-cuts activists on 18 September.

Mr Osborne announced in July that student maintenance grants will be scrapped and switched to loans from 2016-17 onwards. But the National Union of Students said a survey that it had conducted had found that 35 per cent of respondents would not have chosen to go to university without the help of a grant.

Megan Dunn, the NUS president, said local and national action was being taken “in order to secure a U-turn on maintenance grants”.

“It comes as no surprise that the students of this country recognise the profound and damaging effects the cut to maintenance grants would have,” Ms Dunn said. “When a third of students are saying this cut would stop them going to university, the government needs to sit up and take note.”

One group of students is set to travel to Jo Johnson’s constituency in Orpington, Kent, to hold a protest outside his office.

The Free Education Manchester group plans to lobby Mr Osborne in his Tatton constituency, while Brunel Students’ Union is to protest outside Boris Johnson’s office in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.

Goldsmiths Students’ Union is targeting Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond and the frontrunner to be the Conservative candidate in the London mayoral election, while members of UCL Union are heading to Chingford, the constituency of Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary.

Action is also planned in Birmingham, Norwich, Oxford, Warwick and Reading.

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