Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

Student loan plans will affect many

Something quite worrying has happened over the past number of weeks.

Gordon Brown has proposed to sell off the student loan book in the proposed list of assets to be sold off by his Government.

Add this to the fact that University UK (UUK) - the body representing UK vice-chancellors - has called for a rise in fees to about £5,000-per-year (but they would prefer £7,000) and the CBI calling for 'restricted' maintenance grants and this equals a very bad deal for students.

The proposed sale of Government assets is intended to offset the budget deficit.

While this is an approach I would generally welcome to avoid severe cuts, I can't support the selling off of the student loan book.

For anyone thinking that this is only an issue for current students, or "what are they moaning about now?", I would say that this is also an issue for anyone who has a student loan currently, as they may have to pay higher charges if this proposal happens.

This is an issue for all A-level students aspiring to go to university, as they may have to pay higher fees and higher interest rates on their loans.

It is an issue for any parent who aspires to send their child or children to university - ever.

Think about this. The average student would be leaving university with about £32,500 in debt. Is it worth it?

How does that affect students from poorer backgrounds?

Are people going to be denied an education because they can't afford it?

Queen's University and the University of Ulster need to make public their submissions on fees because this is a shortsighted move that is ill-thought out and does not represent the wishes of the vast majority of students and we need to know that our universities are representing our needs.

SDLP Youth will be asking our MPs to make representations to the Government opposing these moves and join the Labour backbenchers organising against any increase in fees.

We will also be stepping up a student awareness campaign across our universities calling on the student loan book to remain in public ownership, for no fee hike and no tampering with maintenance grants.

CONNOR DALY

SDLP Youth

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