Government has betrayed students, John McDonnell tells fees protesters

Published: Wednesday 4th November 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused the Government of “betraying” students as he spoke at a demonstration backing free education.

He addressed thousands of students through a megaphone at the rally calling for the abolition of fees, the return of maintenance grants and an end to student debt.

The Labour MP said: “Your generation has been betrayed by this Government in increases to tuition fees, in scrapping the education maintenance allowance and cuts in education.

“Education is a gift from one generation to another, it is not a commodity to be bought and sold.

“For generations now, one generation has handed the baton to the next, they have tried to ensure that the next generation has a better quality of life than the last.

“This Government is betraying you and future generations. You need to oppose it and I’m here in solidarity with that opposition.”

As students waving placards cheered, Mr McDonnell said education is “a basic human right” that must be protected.

Thousands of students braved the rain to attend the demonstration in central London.

They are challenging plans to scrap maintenance grants and replace them with loans, which critics warn will plunge the poorest students into thousands of pounds of extra debt.

Callum Cant, 21, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, which organised the demonstration, said mounting levels of student debt are making university less accessible.

He said: “The Government is impoverishing the poorest students for minimal gains. It is an attack on the least privileged students which doesn’t save much money and causes misery.”

At present, full-time UK students from families with annual household incomes of £25,000 or less qualifiy for maintenance grants of £3,387 a year. For families with incomes of £30,000, the grant falls to £2,441, while at £35,000 it is £1,494.

Students from families with a household income of £40,000 receive £547, and if income is above £46,620 no amount is awarded.

Under the changes, which come into force in the next academic year, these grants will be replaced by loans which students will start paying back when they earn more than £21,000 a year.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “This Government is committed to ensuring everyone with the potential to benefit from higher education has the opportunity to do so, regardless of their background.

“It has always been the case that student support provided by Government is a contribution to living costs and institutions themselves offer a range of bursaries, scholarships and grants.

“Our system means that lack of finance should not be a barrier to participation and more funding is available to support living costs than ever before.”

Published: Wednesday 4th November 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search