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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Should grants be reintroduced?
An influential former education adviser has added to the calls for student grants to be reintroduced in the UK.
Lord Dearing, chair of a committee whose report led to the introduction of tuition fees, said restoring grants would help to attract students from working class backgrounds.
Others have also argued that grants are the best way to tackle the growing gap between the number of places in the expanding university sector, and the number of student applicants.
Should grants be reintroduced?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Dafydd Eveleigh, Wales
When I finish my degree, I'll be 21 with a minimum debt of £10,000, if not £12,000. What kind of a start to my working life will that be?
Grants should be reintroduced definitely but only in parallel with a rationalisation of higher education. There are just too many wishy-washy, meaningless degree courses out there that serve no purpose other than to keep unemployment figures down amongst the young and amongst lecturing staff.
David Edgeworth, UK
I was lucky enough to receive a grant for my degree but my brother began university the year grants were abolished. During his period of study the cost of rented accommodation has spiralled at a rate way above inflation. Surely the Government must realise that entering working life with debts upwards of £10,000 is a handicap many will find impossible to overcome.
I was at poly from 1977 to 1981 and had a full maintenance grant. I couldn't have done the course without it. Since then I've had a good job and paid my fair share of taxes so I believe I have/am paying my dues. I think it would be paltry of me to deny anyone the same break I had and am happy to pay my taxes towards student grants confident in the knowledge that their future taxes will benefit others after them. I believe this is how society should work.
Steve, UK should define "useless degree". Nations need diversity in education, not endless scientists and engineers.
Grants were abolished because under European law a national from another Euro country was entitled to a grant irrespective of whether their parents had contributed any tax to this country.
Brian Murphy, Ireland
Where is the money coming from?
More and more students pass
through the university system but
lecturers continue to be paid
abysmally. Student loans are already
a graduate tax in effect, as they are
only repaid through earned income after
graduation. Rather than pouring money
down a grant sinkhole, the Government should
ensure the academic infrastructure is properly financed.
Grants should be reintroduced, but the system should be reformed. Some of my fellow students spend their entire day watching soaps (or drinking in the bar). This is not an education and no grant should be given to these people. Maybe a grant should be based on the course chosen and the degree obtained!
It is very sad that student grants were abolished so that the UK could ape all that is wrong with North America. I have just shipped my daughter off to a (pretty cheap) university where the fees are around $7000 per year. Of course, this means that people from poor families cannot go to university and students acquire very large debts. No wonder the UK Conservative Party is in some trouble, you have a Conservative/right-wing government with the "Labour" Party.
The student loan system is probably the best way forward, but it needs refinement. The amount available should be able to cover all likely expenses, including living costs, and should not depend on criteria such as parents' income. I was fortunate enough to attend university with a full grant for 4 years. I still left with a debt of £5,000, although this was repaid in my first 2 years of employment. For our society to develop we need more people to attend further education not less.
Yes of course grants should be reintroduced. I finished university in 1997 and am still in debt. It is ridiculous to think that students (especially from working class backgrounds) will be able to have the education that they are entitled to under the current scheme.
I believe grants should be re-introduced: 1) to enable poorer students to attend; and 2) since they will more than amply replay the loan many times over in the form of income tax throughout their working lives.
Students definitely need more money available to them, either through grants or bigger loans. That way, students won't have to live in the slums that they're forced to accept "just because they're students".
How about a system whereby students can claim back the cost of living and studying by producing receipts, with the student paying a small percentage of an item's cost themselves. That way, they could buy textbooks and take the receipts into college and claim back some funds. Note that you don't normally get receipts for beer.
Grants should definitely be reintroduced because it means that everyone can afford university and not just the rich.
Paul, United Kingdom
Reintroduce student grants, but for pity's sake get rid of some of these nebulous courses!
Yes, go back to the means-tested grant system, and stop penalising bright kids from poorer backgrounds. Let's try and get back to education being a right, and not a privilege.
Yes, but add one percent to the top rate of tax to those who have received them. After the system has been running for a few years the additional revenue from those who have received and benefited from them will subsidise the next generation.
Even in the days of full grants the majority of students came from wealthier homes. Why should ordinary people support privileged youth financially? Far better would be to raise fees for those who could afford to pay, while providing scholarships for bright young people from less privileged backgrounds. You could automatically disqualify anyone who had attended a fee-paying school (unless on an assisted place) from grants, too.
Karen Bigder, England
Having been awarded a grant to go through university myself I can see their obvious value, especially to the families that are less well off. I can also see that a number of students will take easy courses and drink their grant in the student bars. I believe that grants should be fairly small, enough to cover tuition and basic living costs, but not sufficiently large that students can enjoy the sort of excesses available in the early 90s. After all, enterprise needs to be learned somehow and what better way than working to provide for your own future. Ultimately I think the situation has to be that if you don't want to invest in your own future you have no right to expect the state to.
Of course grants should be reintroduced! In any competitive capitalist society, it is essential that talent and ability should find its way to the top of our professions. All barriers to achievement must be removed, and a level playing field for all is the only economically logical arrangement.
I would like to see grants reintroduced but hope that all of us students who have been suffering massive debts for the last few years without grants will get some sort of compensation. It's getting very desperate for some of us.
Matthew Illsley, England
Grants should be introduced for students in useful subjects like, teaching sciences and engineering.
Why should the tax paying public pay for students that spend three years doing a degree that is completely useless to both the candidates and the country?
Richard John Porter, Canada
Why should people who never went to college pay for the university education of a minority of the population? After they leave university these people will become professionals anyway, so they can perfectly afford to pay their own loans back. And, if we're worried about poverty, then use an income tax, rather than subsidising a lot of middle class kids who want to postpone work for three years.
Whilst I think it was utterly stupid to abolish grants and would like to see them reintroduced, I think it should be said that student loans aren't exactly terrible. An interest free loan which you only have to pay back when you're earning above £10,000 a year and only then in instalments dependant on your salary. Try finding a loan policy this good down the bank. Unfortunatly, would-be students just get scared at the words "loan" or "debt", even though this is probably the best financial deal they're ever likely to be offered in their life. The only problem I have with the student loan system is that it is not enough. £3,800 a year only buys so much beer...
Terence Parker, Hong Kong (& UK)
Ability to pay should never be a criterion for getting a good education. College students face enough challenges and stress as it is, why should the stress be compounded with mounting debt?
I wonder how many doctors, engineers and talented people we are missing out on purely because would-be students from poorer backgrounds don't have the funds to go to university.
It is important to have equality. It is through equality that we will bring forward "the best".
As a single mature student it is difficult to decide now that my children are older whether to just get a mundane job or to set sights higher and study, enabling a better job, larger income, giving my children a better start in life. A grant would be helpful and my ambitions could be realised.
Student grants should never have been abolished. Education is a RIGHT, not a privilege.
Richard Philips, London, UK
It makes my blood boil to think that advanced education is once again becoming a preserve of the rich. Even in my day - grants and all - the Uni's were full of kids from private school!
As an American from a large family, I would never have been able to get my degree without student grants and student loans. If England is charging tuition fees to attend university, it should also give need-based grants and/or loans.
I think grants should be re-introduced because I don't think people should pay for their education. People should be able to educate themselves out of poverty in the poorer areas to help them not to turn to crime. We'll have a situation in future where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
10 Sep 01 | Education
Dearing backs return of grants
21 Jun 01 | Education
Student debts reach £6,000
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