Student maintanence grants are gone.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
For those that don’t know what student maintenance grants are; or were – they were given to students who had a household income of less than £42,620.
If you had an income of less than £25,000, you were entitled to the top rate of maintenance grant.
The grant didn’t have to be paid back by students.
It wasn’t free money, we would pay it back by being educated and employed students.
That was one of the arguments made today and one I agree with.
I watched the debate in the House of Commons from 11.30am today.
At least we got a debate – at last!
The Labour Party put a motion forward asking the Conservative government to abolish their plans to replace student maintenance grants with loans.
At the start, student grants were going.
There were various arguments about class politics, social mobility and even party politics was brought into the debate. Party politics does not focus on the question, in my opinion.
But, alas some of the points made were relevant – the removal of the grant will mean that many students who want to go to university, now can’t go because of money.
Why should money determine the future of a child or young person?
It shouldn’t but it will.
After a long, 5 hour debate, all MPs decided whether to vote “yes” or “no” to the motion.
It was a tense time, staring at my laptop waiting for the infamous words “order, order!”
The tellers came up and revealed the first vote.
Labour were defeated 306 to 292.
Student grants were possibly going at this stage, but I was reluctant for a turn around. It wasn’t inevitable, but I certainly didn’t have any hope.
But I continued watching as a second vote was to come.
Because of new Commons rules, it was then up to English MPs to vote on the motion, as the decision is said to affect English students only.
This was because the debate needed a double majority vote.
There was one majority for “no’s” for the motion. One more majority vote was needed and then it would be decided that student grants would be going.
The attempt failed and Labour was defeated again by 303 to 292.
The student grants were and are gone.
I come from a low income single-parent family. When I say low income, I mean low.
If I’d have gone to university in 2012, I would have been okay. I would have graduated last year. I wouldn’t have accrued too much debt.
Had I stayed on my social work course, I would have been graduating from university next year, with approximately £33,000 of debt.
But since I started a new course from scratch, I have to borrow money for another 3 years.
I still have my debt from my social work course, that’s £11,000 on top of what I’ve borrowed this year and what I’ll need to borrow completely in loans.
That’s scary, considering graduate jobs don’t pay a lot of money.
You may say, “but you don’t have to pay it back until you are earning over £21k”. Well yes, but it’s still a lot of money to owe.
You may argue that it gets wiped off after a number of years, but the thought of debt hanging over my head isn’t a good thing.
It’s so much easier for people with money, that’s all I’ll say.
I’m now worried for my sister too. Very worried.
She wants to go to university – to study nursing.
She’ll not only have to borrow thousands of pounds to go, she may not have her bursary anymore leaving her in a difficult position.
She won’t be able to get a part time job at university either due to the demands of her course.
She may not even be able to go to university.
That’s unfair on her when she wants to aspire to a decent job. A job that requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
Why should my sister and thousands of other prospective university students have to suffer because they don’t have a lot of household income?
But with the decision today, they will.
My sisters future in nursing may be gone.
Then person who may find a cure for an incurable disease may have been stopped from going to university.
It is a possibility.
Thousands of people may have been stopped from wanting to go to university, simply because it is too much money.
It all comes back down to money.
It may be even harder for mature students. We won’t even get onto how it’ll affect carers.
Teenagers are becoming savvier with their money and they may feel like it’s a waste of time or a waste of effort.
Is university really worth the money is what they’ll be asking; that’s a question for another day.
Money should not be a barrier to someone’s future, but now it is more than before.
I’m scared. Are you?
What are your thoughts? Let me know below in the comments or on my social media accounts.