UCU’s General Secretary responds to the budget

UCU has condemned plans in today’s budget to convert university maintenance grants for low income students into loans of up to £8,200 and has said it will oppose proposals to increase the maximum tuition fee in England beyond £9,000.

UCU highlighted its concerns about the impact ending maintenance grants and fee increases would have on participation in higher education, particularly amongst those who need the most support.

Regarding the proposal for a company levy to fund apprenticeships, increasing the contribution from employers is a longstanding UCU policy and we will look in detail at what the chancellor proposes.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Maintenance grants are crucial for engaging students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are already daunted by cripplingly high tuition fee debt. Increasing the debt burden on students will act as a disincentive to participation, and it does not make sense for the taxpayer either as the extra loan amount is unlikely to be repaid in full. Putting the onus on individual institutions to take the lead on widening participation will lead to greater disparities in terms of access and a more confusing system for students to navigate. The level of financial support available should not be the deciding factor for a student choosing where to study.’

‘Any further increase in the cost of tuition fees, as proposed by the chancellor, risks putting off many of those who would benefit most from university’.

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