Tory cuts are forcing Brum students to leave Selly Oak and live at home
‘I just can’t afford it anymore’
The number of Brum students forced to leave Selly Oak because they can’t afford the costs is likely to rise after the government voted to scrap maintenance grants and replace them with extra loans.
The decision was made by a vote in parliament, but only 18 members out of a possible 650 voted.
The loss of maintenance grants will mean that students from lower income backgrounds will be coming out of university with even more debt than expected, while making it near impossible to survive whilst at uni without one.
Although the decision to scrap grants will come into effect this September, students are already feeling the squeeze. Many have left their accommodation and returned home in the face of escalating costs.
One final year English and Creative Writing student had no choice but to move home, despite receiving a grant from the government.
The student said: “I’ve had to move home even with my grant because I can’t afford to live away. Money stress drove me to be mentally ill and has affected me all round. By taking away the grants and replacing it with a repayable loan is pointless, because it’s just more stress for students.
“This is why the number of mental health patients is going up and the number of graduates is going down. It’s not because they can’t handle the course, but because they can’t handle the payments.”
Another current Brum student also in receipt of a maintenance grant said the rising rent bills prevent her from buying necessities and forced her to return home last year.
She said: “At the moment I do the least amount of food shopping I possibly can. I’m lucky I have a job and can work on the weekends otherwise I’d have no money for food. I really don’t want to rely on my mum, who is a single parent with two children at uni.
“I very rarely go out. Travelling to uni is a bit of a hindrance as well, because I catch the train everyday. I could move out to Selly Oak again next year, but I shouldn’t have to apply for a higher loan for the privilege, and come out with a unnecessary high debt when I graduate.”
Guild President Jack Mably expressed his disagreement with the government action on Facebook yesterday.
Jack told The Tab: “Whilst the system was not perfect, the grants were a fundamental part of a widening participation agenda. This is coupled with the scrapping of Nursing Bursaries, the extensive cuts to Further & Higher Education Budgets, cuts to the Disabled Students Allowance and the changes to Junior Doctor contracts.
“A clear pattern has emerged: It’s those in the bracket of 16-25 who are being continually targeted by the current government in the name of making up the deficit that the UK has built up. Today is another blow for students in Birmingham and across the UK, The Guild will be working closely with NUS to oppose such regressive changes.”
Students who live away from home outside of London will receive a higher loan amount of up to £8,200, but this will have to be repaid under the same terms as an existing student loan, once you’re earning more than £21,000 per year.