The Government has warned it will prosecute graduates from across the UK and overseas who fail to pay their student loans back on time as part of a new strategy.
In a statement from Minister for Universities Jo Johnson to the House of Commons, the politician said the new plans were needed to ensure the repayment system remains “fair, robust, and efficient” as the higher education system sees more people gain entry than ever before, due to a cap-lift on numbers.
He described how the Government is committed to maintaining the UK’s “world-class education system while living within its means,” and said: “As more loans are issued to new students each year, it is vital the repayment process is robust, convenient for borrowers, and working efficiently to ensure the sustainability of the student finance system, and value for money, for the taxpayer.”
Student news in pictures
Student news in pictures
1/19 UCL students ‘declare victory’ as 5-month long rent dispute is resolved
UCL said its offer to make available £350,000 for 2016/17 to fund accommodation bursaries for those students in most need of financial support, to freeze rent for 2016/17 and to reduce rent for some rooms had been accepted. Shelly Asquith, NUS vice-president of welfare, said: “Rent hikes will lead to more rent strikes, and now we know that rent strikes win.”
UCL, Cut the Rent/Facebook
2/19 Dutch university warns UK students to apply as soon as possible while tuition fees are still affordable
Maastricht University (UM) in the Netherlands has said British students will continue to benefit from fees of just £1,600 a year for at least the next two years. Once Britain has legally left the EU - and considering it does not join the European Economic Area - UM said its fees could still rise to as much as £8,360 a year for UK students.
Brian Megens/Maastricht University
3/19 UK risks losing over 33,000 much-needed female scientists each year
New research has shown almost a quarter of current female science students will not or are not sure whether they will pursue a career in science, equating to 33,371 students. Dr Steve Shiel, scientific director at L’Oreal UK & Ireland, said: “There’s no question that science needs women, and it’s disappointing almost a quarter of passionate young UK scientists are being put off before they’ve even begun their career.”
4/19 De Montfort University petition urges Government to protect residency rights of EU nationals post-Brexit result
A petition launched by the Leicester institution less than a week ago has already gathered 1,500 signatures as supporters insist EU nationals make “an enormous contribution” to ground-breaking research and quality of teaching. Rick Greenough, of DMU’s Institute for Energy and Sustainable Development, said: “Our colleagues from the EU are far too valuable as employees and friends to risk forcing or encouraging them to leave the UK.”
5/19 Exeter University staff and students subjected to verbal abuse post-EU referendum
Deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Exeter, Professor Nick Talbot, told ITV News the incidents were “terrible, reprehensible, and awful.” However, he said he believes the majority of people in the United Kingdom would “overwhelming reject that type of activity.” The university has urged anyone who experiences such incidents to contact police immediately.
6/19 Students turning to sex work to cope with rising tuition fees and living costs
More than half - 67 per cent - have turned to sex work to be able to pay for living expenses, such as food and bills, followed by 53 per cent who need the money to pay for rent, says NUS report. Another 35 per cent say their earnings are used to pay for university fees, while around a quarter use money earned to reduce post-graduation debt, or to avoid getting into debt.
7/19 Parliamentary debate finally triggered over Government’s controversial decision to retrospectively change student loans terms
The news will come as a pleasant surprise seeing as how the Government had rejected a petition just over a week ago, despite it surpassing the crucial 100,000 signatures it needed to make it eligible for parliamentary debate. Consumer champion, Martin Lewis, says: “Parliament has sat up and listened. With a new Government coming in September, there is still time for it to do a U-turn on this disgraceful policy and I, for one, will be pushing as hard and loudly as possible for that to happen.” The debate is set for Monday 18 July at 4.30pm.
Rob Stothard/Getty Images
8/19 Remain and Leave students have two main things in common when it comes to the Brexit result
A combined 91 per cent feel Brexit campaigners “insufficiently investigated” the impact on education, while 57 per cent think their university failed to provide adequate information on the impact of a Brexit vote. Chloe Burgess, director at GTI Media, said: “It’s inevitable opinions would be divided among the student body, but they all share a common interest in playing an active part in their country’s future. This political inclination will, no doubt, be further expressed in the coming months, as university and careers issues are increasingly brought to light post-Brexit.”
9/19 Thousands of graduates working in jobs that don’t require any qualifications
Over 50,000 new graduates are in non-graduate jobs, including lollypop ladies, factory workers and hospital porters, new figures have revealed, leading experts to question the value of costly university degrees in the Brexit climate, employment data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows.
Getty Images/Susan Chiang
10/19 Disadvantaged young people at risk of being put off university if Government raises tuition fees
Non-whites and those who receive free school meals are also more likely to choose low-cost university options if tuition fees are liable to change, says new report ‘Does Cost Matter?’ UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, says: “We risk creating a polarised university system of haves and have-nots where costs determines young people’s choices.”
Ian Waldie/Getty Images
11/19 Worrying trend of ‘drunkorexia’ on the rise among female students
It had been thought that ‘drunkorexia’, the trend of skipping meals in order to save calories to drink alcohol, was anecdotal.However, the practice is very much a reality - and becoming worryingly popular among young women, particularly university students - as it is revealed almost 60 per cent of female undergrads admit to drunkorexic behaviours.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
12/19 University to offer out-of-work graduates half their tuition fees back in cash
The University of Law (ULaw) says its new ‘100% for You’ initiative will also offer a half-price discount to its unemployed graduate lawyers should they wish to pursue a postgrad. Graduates must have been unable to secure full-time employment 9 months after graduation to qualify for the refund.
13/19 Gender discrimination present among students as young as 16, schoolgirls report
Over a third of girls aged 16 to 18 - 36 per cent - say they have witnessed gender discrimination in school. Startlingly, only one in five boys - or 19 per cent - believes a gender divide exists today. Michael Mercieca, chief executive of Young Enterprise, described how the gender divide “remains rife in our education system,” from girls lacking the confidence to pursue leadership roles and to expect higher starting salaries, to the “pervasive belief” STEM topics are more interesting for boys.
14/19 Government confirms funding for EU students in UK to be honoured after Brexit
The Student Loans Company said it has sought to reassure anxious students and applicants from home and abroad about how the EU referendum results might affect the funding of their courses. In a statement on Twitter, Universities Minister Jo Johnson said: “Current students and this autumn's applicants will continue to receive student finance for duration of their course. [The] UK welcomes EU students.” The University of Buckingham, pictured, has the highest percentage of overseas students, a number of whom are from the EU.
The University of Buckingham/Facebook
15/19 York University student gets public apology and £1,000 payout after making anti-Semitism complaints
According to The Sunday Times, 21-year-old law student, Zachary Confino, “suffered stress and narrowly missed a first-class degree” following comments made to him over a period of two years. The comments reportedly included anonymous messages posted to him on social media app, Yik Yak, as well as face-to-face name-calling. University spokesperson says: “The university is committed to preserving the right to freedom of expression while also combating anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and any other form of race hate.”
16/19 European Students’ Union will ‘stand together’ with UK’s young voters post-Brexit
Representing over 15 million students across the continent, ESU president says: “We hope the UK Government and the EU institutions will find a deal that won’t jeopardize students in UK, and that UK universities won’t increase tuition fees to compensate the loss of EU money.”
17/19 UK result would have been Remain had votes been allowed at 16
With 1.46 million 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK - and with that 82 per cent voting Remain - the number would have matched the 1.2 million difference between Out and In, potentially changing the result completely, The Student Room survey finds.
18/19 Access to social media sites more important to students than promotions and bonuses
Access to social media sites is so essential for students in their careers, they would also turn down gym memberships, subsidised lunches, company-provided smartphones, laptops, tablets and cars, and even healthcare and dental schemes, graduate careers app, Debut, finds.
19/19 Student homelessness in London is ‘a hidden problem,’ says academic
Patrick Mulrenan, senior lecturer in housing at London Metropolitan University (LMU), carried out research to find students across the capital are being forced to sleep on floors, stay with friends and relatives, or in council temporary accommodation. He said: We need to find out how many students are affected and encourage them to use the support that is available. We want to use this research to get the message out there that there is help available, and encourage students to tell us if they are homeless.”
Despite acknowledging that the majority of borrowers do repay on time, Mr Johnson said the Government will take “stronger action” to track down borrowers who avoid repaying, including those overseas. He said: “We will act to recover loan repayments where it is clear borrowers are seeking to avoid repayment, consider the use of sanctions against borrowers who breach loan repayment terms and, if necessary, prosecute.”
Read more about the Government’s new strategy:
For students who need more help, Mr Johnson said the Government will offer more support to ensure their repayment obligations are met. In the interests of fairness to both the taxpayer and to borrowers, though, he added: “We will be tougher on those who do not [seek to meet repayment obligations].”
The move will see the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Student Loans Company, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Devolved Administrations of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all work together seeing how the loan repayment process is the same across all four parts of the UK.
The Government has recently been criticised for making a U-turn on a student loan promise which originally saw post-2012 students repay the amount they borrowed once they earned £21,000 or more.
However, having backtracked - and amid overwhelming opposition from respondents to a consultation - the Conservatives have placed a freeze in the threshold, meaning graduates will now have to repay more of their cash each month.