Published on January 22, 2014 | by Callum McCarthy0
Poorer students hit by new Coalition funding cuts
Plans to slash funding for poorer university students have been branded “an absolute disgrace” by the National Union of Students (NUS).
The Student Opportunity Fund currently provides universities with £327 million to encourage and support poorer students entering higher education, but this is expected to be cut by £200 million or more in an attempt to curb overspending by the Department of Business (BIS).
The news comes in wake of a £100 million cut to the National Scholarship Programme, a public fund used by universities to help disadvantaged students with bursaries and grants.
NUS President, Toni Pearce, accused the government of “balancing the books on the backs of the poor”.
She continued: “The Government’s sustained attacks on our education system do nothing to help young people with the financial practicalities of staying in college and moving onto higher education.”
“When the Government is lavishing funds for profit providers, it is particularly outrageous that it is once again stripping away opportunities from the poorest students,” Pearce said.
According to The Guardian, the future of the fund has caused a rift within the Coalition, as the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, is believed to be pushing for the fund to be axed entirely, against the will of the Tory minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts.
The succession of higher education cuts by the Coalition has angered the UAL Students’ Union, who told Arts London News that they are “very concerned” with the trend in government policies.
“The reality of slashing these sources of funding is that students, have to decide whether to buy materials for their course or pay their rent.” – Hannah Roberts
UAL Students’ Union, Education Officer, Hannah Roberts told ALN: “The reality of slashing these sources of funding is that students have to decide whether to buy materials for their course or pay their rent. In the future students may be deterred from applying to university at all.”
Roberts continued: “Considering the broader context of the past couple of years, the Coalition have overseen some of the most savage cuts to public services and education since the second world war. The short-termism of these policies is staggering.”
A decision on the fate of the Student Opportunity Fund now lies with four of the highest-ranked members of the coalition – which includes Alexander – after meetings to resolve the £1.4 billion BIS overspend broke down.