Rushanara Ali MP attacked the Government’s recent decision to replace maintenance grants with loans for lower income students through the back door using a statutory instrument which avoids proper parliamentary scrutiny.
Despite substantial opposition the Government used an obscure parliamentary committee to push through their changes to higher education funding on 14 January 2016. This denied debate to a policy that will hit half a million disadvantaged students in England from 2016, and has been introduced without any consultation with students, the higher education sector or the public.
The Bethnal Green and Bow MP spoke in an opposition day debate on the cuts, condemning the Government on their “cap on aspiration.” She also reminded the Minister that over 5,000 students in Tower Hamlets currently rely on maintenance grants, highlighting that grants are crucial to improving the accessibility of university for the most disadvantaged young people.
Speaking in the Chamber, Rushanara said:
“David Cameron said last week that his mission was for his Government to look every child in the eye and say: “Your dreams are our dreams. We’ll support you with everything we’ve got. And then he scrapped maintenance grants. This smacks of hypocrisy and is a cap on aspiration.”
“This will hit disadvantaged students the hardest, already two and a half times less likely to go to university.”