"There can be few more obvious examples of the gulf between the rhetoric of this Conservative government and its actions than the abolition of maintenance grants for the poorest students in higher education in England, which took effect for new students from Monday."
"Earlier this year, the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, spoke of his ambition to double the proportion of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds going into university. Yet at the very same time his government decided their own artificial deficit targets were more important than the life-chances of those same students."
"Make no mistake: this policy makes that task far harder. Not only that, but it entrenches inequality in our education system as a matter of policy. Worse still, it may not actually save money in the long run, and raises the risk that the government will change the repayment conditions for student loans further down the line."
"Scrapping grants makes expanding access harder: we know from various academic studies that students from poorer backgrounds are more debt-averse, and that particular groups – like student parents – all the more so. Even if students still decide to enter higher education, an increased debt burden will impact on their choices: research shows poorer students are more likely to live at home, or choose a different subject or a shorter course. Many such students also choose to work during term-time as a way of reducing their debt – but too many hours of work has an impact on attainment. All of these are pressures that will be felt less by wealthier students."