Higher debts may deter poor students from university, says report

The BBC is reporting claims that poorer students in England may be put off university by funding changes that could leave them with higher debts than middle-class graduates helped by their parents.

The Sutton Trust’s commission on fees looked at Budget changes such as replacing means-tested grants with loans and tying fees to inflation.

The trust – which advocates social mobility through education – set up the Independent Commission on Fees in 2012 to monitor the effect of higher tuition fees…

The report says poor students could rack up loans of about £53,000 for a three-year course once the new maintenance loans are included.

It is assumed that students from richer homes would be helped financially by their parents.

However, it notes that since the change to higher fees of £9,000, only 5% of students are thought likely to pay back their loans fully by the age of 40, compared with half of students under the old system.

It questions whether the system is value for money for the student and for the taxpayer and calls for the Office for Budget Responsibility to conduct an investigation into this.

“The OBR should investigate the system as a whole including the impact of this latest measure on likely repayments.

“The remit of this investigation should include an analysis of how the costs of higher education are now being shouldered and to what extent this is both ethical and sustainable.”

The commission, chaired by Will Hutton, cautions against any “substantive increases in fees” or “removing the cap” on fees completely.

It stresses that there is still an “insufficient understanding of the long-term effects of the debts incurred in this process”…

More at: Higher debts may deter poor students from university, says report


See more on this directly from the Sutton Trust at: OBR Should Investigate Whether Student Loan System Provides Value for Money


I think the last point made above is a very important one – big changes are being made in a system and we have very little idea of the impact they are going to have.

The danger is that any adverse outcomes won’t be properly known until it is too late to do anything about them.

Would you support the calls for an Office of Budget Responsibility investigation into the student loan system?

Please let us know why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Higher Education.


  1. DawnConnor

    SchoolsImprove Never mind ‘may ‘. I’ve already met kids who have decided not to go because of the cost.

  2. pompeygeorge

    SchoolsImprove As a working class kid it would have stopped me. Debt was already an issue for us. Luckily I got the last years of grants.

  3. Suits2overalls

    SchoolsImprove #USMilitary offers tuition benefits for those who elect to serve their country first! I did.
    – 10 yr active duty USAF Vet

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