New university grants are "No help to poorest"
Economists fear plans to give university students hundreds of millions of pounds in extra grants will do nothing to help the poorest undergraduates. Ministers say the new grant system due to be introduced next year will encourage more students from deprived backgrounds to apply to university. But economists from the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the money would be better spent on improving the school results of pupils from less well off homes. They added that universities would also be worse off under the changes as they would be required to give bursaries to more students. Emla Fitzsimons, from the institute, said in an interview with The Guardian: â€œThe latest reforms only benefit students from families with incomes more than Â£17,500. This clearly stands to benefit many young people on below-average incomes, but does nothing to help those from the poorest backgrounds.â€
Under the measures introduced recently, about 50,000 more students are expected to get full maintenance grants, worth more than Â£2,800 each and which do not have to be repaid.
Director General of the Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, said: â€œRaising the participation levels of students from low-income backgrounds is an issue of vital importance to The Russell Group as key deliverers of the high-level skills needed for the UK to compete in a rapidly developing global economy. â€œThe Russell Group particularly welcomes the doubling of numbers on the Student Associate Scheme because this type of activity aims to tackle some of the root causes of under-representation in higher education by improving attainment and raising aspiration.â€