Yesterday, Emma Reynolds MP voted against government plans to scrap maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds, replacing them with additional loans. This change would mean that the poorest 40% of students going to university in England will graduate with the highest debts of up to £53,000 from a three-year course, will impact on students studying at further education colleges, and will especially affect students from BME, disabled, older learners, women and Muslim backgrounds.

These sweeping changes were not in the Conservative election manifesto. Labour therefore tabled a debate and a vote on the floor of the House of Commons, to challenge the government and try and halt their decision to scrap maintenance grants.

Speaking during the debate, Emma said: “I qualified for a full maintenance grant when I was at university, and its impact was not just to help make ends meet, but the feeling of confidence and freedom that I could choose the degree that I wanted at my first choice of university.

“Since the election of the Tory majority Government and the previous coalition Government, young people have been hit again and again with the removal of the education maintenance allowance, the trebling of tuition fees and now, for the poorest students, the removal of grants. “

Speaking afterwards, Emma said: “Maintenance grants provide vital support for students on lower income backgrounds from Wolverhampton. Over half of the students studying at Wolverhampton University, many of whom live in Wolverhampton, currently receive a grant. This ill-thought out change could therefore have serious implications for students in Wolverhampton.

“The government should be doing all it can to ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds reach their full potential. This change would do the opposite, and could make poorer students think twice about going into higher education due to the considerable debts they will be burdened with in the process.”

 

A copy of Emma’s speech can be found here.