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Maintenance grant cut: More than half of students tell NUS survey grant is 'absolutely essential' for them to attend university

45% say managing finances now compared with when they started university is more difficult, adding the grant cut would only make things worse

Aftab Ali
Monday 03 August 2015 14:32 BST

More than half of students have said the soon-to-be axed maintenance grant is absolutely essential for them to attend university, according to a National Union of Students (NUS) survey.

The findings into student views on the cut also showed 35 per cent would have chosen not to go to university without the help of a maintenance grant.

Chancellor George Osborne incurred the wrath of students and student groups across England and Wales after axing the popular student maintenance grant, in his latest Budget announcement, for low-income students after saying they had become “unaffordable.”

Of the almost 2,200 students who responded to the NUS poll, 30 per cent believe the grant to be important or very important, and another 45 per cent said they are finding it more difficult to manage their finances now than when they started at university, adding that the loss of the maintenance grant would only plunge hundreds of thousands into further financial turmoil.

The results of the survey came on the same day the Independent Commission on Fees released a report condemning the current student loan system, raising concerns over any proposed rise in tuition fees and revealing students’ growing fears over ever-mounting levels of debt.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies stated the Government’s proposed cut to maintenance grants – which 81 per cent of respondents opposed – will mean the poorest students could graduate with a total of £52,000 worth of debt.

This is a potential increase of £13,000 for those who would have previously qualified for the maintenance grant, something 69 per cent of the survey’s respondents felt would make it harder to enter into education.

NUS president, Megan Dunn, described how it comes as no surprise that Britain’s students recognise the “profound and damaging effects” the cut to maintenance grants would have.

She added: “When a third of students are saying this cut would stop them going to university, the Government needs to sit up and take note.”

Having launched its #CutTheCosts campaign, Ms Dunn said local and national action must be taken in order to secure a U-turn on maintenance grants.

“We must also tackle the causes of this crisis and cut the costs that are pricing the poorest out of education,” she said.

“That’s why we will need to harness opposition party support and demonstrate widespread opposition to the Government’s plans.”

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