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Universities call for return of maintenance grants for students in England | Higher education

Vice Chancellors have called for the reduction of maintenance grants for students in England, warning that otherwise there will be a “significant” impact on students’ health and wellbeing, as well as their education.

Steve West, vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England, told Universities UK’s annual conference in Leicester that the new government “must deal with the cost of living that students and staff now face. It hits them hard.”

West, the president of the UUK, said the maximum maintenance loan available to students in England this year will be £1,000 less than a job paying the national minimum wage – the widest gap between the two since 2004 – pushing higher education further. becomes inaccessible to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The maximum support loan for studying outside London and living away from home is now £9,706 for students from households earning up to £25,000 a year.

While universities have “re-staged to support students,” West said emergency aid was not a substitute for long-term support.

“We also need the government to take action. In our talks with new cabinet members and ministers in the coming weeks, we will urge them to provide additional government funding to finance hardships and restore maintenance subsidies to the most deprived,” West said.

“Failing to do this will lead to significant health and wellness challenges, as well as educational impacts.”

West said university leaders should also advocate for sustainable funding to educate their students, as inflation has eroded their tuition revenues.

“Universities are already doing more with less. We have all invested significantly in rising wage and pension costs, digital innovations to improve learning and modernized facilities to meet student demand. We’ve all also invested significantly in support for student mental health and well-being to keep up with demand,” West said.

“I recognize, of course, that this administration has many spending priorities that are urgent and urgent. But it is vital that we make progress on this point.”

Vivienne Stern, the incoming chief executive of UUK, told the assembled vice chancellors that they are currently facing “serious ranks” of policy challenges.

“I could name them, but I’d depress you,” Stern said.

Warned the Treasury “not particularly concerned” about universities, Stern said the new government’s review of spending posed a potential risk to research budgets, particularly funding a replacement for the UK’s £80 membership in the EU research program billion Horizon Europe.

The conference heard results of new research into attitudes towards British universities. The survey of more than 2,000 adults found that concerns about universities “were not paramount”, while the public was more concerned about a lack of funding for schools.

Holly Wicks of BritainThinks, who conducted polls and focus groups for the study, said “guilt” was the word most commonly associated with higher education by the public. Earlier research in 2018 found that “expensive” was the most common word.

The survey found that 61% would encourage their children to attend college, up from 66% in 2018.

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