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'No' to student loan proposals

In less than a week, over 4,000 people have already signed up to the facebook group that condemns the proposals to increase the interest on student loans.

South Belfast SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt created the the online group last Friday, May 14, as a result of the number of constituents contacting his office asking how they are going to repay their loans with the present interest. Others contacted him with their concerns at the ramifications of having to pay an ever higher rate — as the proposals from the Russell Group that represents 20 of the leading universities suggest.

Mr McDevitt said: “The proposal from the Russell Group is very worrying. At a time when we are facing recovery from the economic downturn, jobs are very much a big concern. People all over this island and across the water are finding it very difficult to gain employment; therefore this announcement suggesting students pay back more on their loan at a higher interest rate is hard to believe.

“I am also aware that an independent report regarding student fees was sent to the Minister of Education and Learning on March 25. I would call on Minister Empey to publish this report in light of the Russell Group proposals.”

Michelle Byrne, who works at Mr McDevitt’s constituency offfice is one of the admins on the facebook site called ‘Oppose Russell Group proposals for student loans’.

She told the CT: “The response to this campaign has been overwhelming. It started by Conall adding his friends, and another officer and myself adding ours – from there it has been word of mouth. It’s not a surprise so many have joined, —student debt is a real concern. These latest proposals have sparked a massive campaign against the extra financial pressure being applied to those that want an education.

“The more people who join the group, the more of a difference we can make when highlighting the issue in Stormont.”

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