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Changes in student loans in England “could jeopardize the provision of teachers and nurses” | Students


More than two months after they were introduced, the government’s changes to student loans have now been reviewed and analyzed in detail, and experts have concluded that they will be a change for higher education in England – but not as the ministers hope.

The long-awaited response to the Augar review education and funding after 18 years, published in February, included a 40-year payback period and longer maturities. While this is unlikely to prevent middle-class teens from aspiring to the degree, those from less affluent families may hold back, posing a danger to graduates in key sectors such as teaching and nursing, experts concluded.

Analysis by Institute for Fiscal Research The (IFS) think tank found that lower- and middle-income graduates suffered the most, paying £ 30,000 more than current graduates, with payments over 40 years. But graduates with the highest incomes will pay £ 20,000 less as progressive elements of the existing credit package are removed.

IFS also found this proposals under consideration Restricting credit to those who have the minimum exams can greatly affect those who enter the university.

Introducing GCSE requirements in English and Mathematics could stop 10% of students who are recent graduates from getting loans – in effect, denying most of them access to campus. IFS found that most of them would be from unhappy families or ethnic minorities, precisely from those groups that successive governments encouraged to consider higher education.

Claire Crawford of the Institute of Education at University College London said the government and taxpayers would “significantly reduce the investment they provide” by paying off more graduates. According to IFS, the share of graduates who fully repay loans can grow from 25% to almost 75%.

But whether the new repayment regime will deter future students in England depends on their calculations, whether they will be better off.

“Those who can expect to continue working and have relatively high incomes may think that as a result they will be even more encouraged to go to university because their payments are projected to decrease,” Crawford said. “If you’re at the bottom of the spectrum, I guess it’s a more marginal solution. But this is not entirely obvious. “

Crawford noted that many students chose subjects and courses that had low incomes in terms of earnings, believing that behind their decision were reasons other than income. “We can conclude that [existing] the price of the sticker didn’t seem to scare people away. So it is not clear whether they pay enough attention to such changes that affect future payments, ”she said.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield Hallam Chris Hasbends said there were two opinions among his colleagues about the possible consequences. “The first view is that none of this will affect the fact that the cultural propensity to go to university as a way to improve oneself is so deeply ingrained that changes in the lending regime will not significantly affect demand on the ground. .

“View № 2 is that this cultural predisposition is much stronger among the middle class than among poor families, and that although none of these interventions are likely to be decisive in themselves, drip, drip, drip, is likely to have an effect on families in places like East Barnsley [reinforcing historically low rates of participation]».

Husbands believe ministers are less interested in expanding participation, “because they think the job is done,” and more concerned about cost, given current projections of a 26% increase in student numbers over the next decade. As a result, the husbands say politicians are like hotel guests in an unfamiliar soul, alternating between too hot and too cold, nervously adjusting taps.

“What worries me is that the deteriorating terms of trade on student loans, the minimum requirements for participation in competitions and so on – this is a series of events that take us back to the world of the 1940s or 1950s, where universities are full of middle class and the poor do not fall, ”he said.

The men said he could take on the minimum requirements, but they could be a hindrance for the most disadvantaged because of England’s very uneven results at the school level. “But I don’t think the sector has a mind yet.”

Although the government is improving its financial situation, it has done little to help students whose maintenance credits are falling in real terms. University funding through tuition fees, which have stuck at £ 9,250 since 2016, has also been blurred by inflation, despite the government increasing tuition grants in some priority subjects such as health.

Robin Mason, vice chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said a prolonged fee freeze could lead to a reversal of the balance between more selective universities and the rest of the sector, reversing the trend of the last decade that has led to electoral universities. a larger proportion of students.

“I think you can bet that more selective universities aren’t trying to expand the number of their students in the country,” Mason said. “One part of government policy limits supply at the top, and the other part says it doesn’t want lower-cost courses. And there will be a clash between the two, but it is a clash that is forced by different forces of politics. “

A spokesman for the Russell Group of Universities said frozen tariffs, rising prices and demand on the ground would “inevitably start to affect the quality and choice of students, especially for those subjects with the highest tuition costs” such as nursing and engineering.

“To protect a number of high-level skills and jobs that will be crucial to our economic recovery, we urge the government to work with the sector and find a long-term, financially sustainable approach to higher education funding that continues to expand access to the university,” he said. -secretary.

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