There were three big attacks on students in the Tories', which will see students burdened with even more debt and provide even bigger barriers for people from poorer backgrounds to access education. The three attacks are:
- The Tories are scrapping maintenance grants for low income students and replacing them with loans, starting in the 2016/17 academic year. This will burden the poorest students with an extra £10,000 of debt after a three year course.
- At the same time the Tories are also allowing some universities to increase tuition fees over £9,000 (to increase with inflation).
- The Tories are also freezing the student loan repayment threshold at £21,000 (when it should be rising with inflation).
In response the Student Assembly Against Austerity is joining with other groups to launch a campaign to #KeepTheGrants – which started with a protest and photo campaign outside Parliament yesterday. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for details of three simple ways you can get involved with the campaign.
Becky Cutts, a student a Liverpool John Moores University and founder of new Student Assembly Against Austerity group on campus explained the impact that the Tories slashing of maintenance grants will have:
“Without access to maintenance grants I would not have been able to access university. I grew up as a young carer, with two disabled younger brothers, so the additional help I received through the grants has allowed me the opportunity to get an education. I know lots more people in a similar situation to myself. The removal of maintenance grants is a huge attack on those who haven't had the privilege of being born into a family that can afford to support them through university, pushing ordinary students further and further into debt. We should be supporting our students’ futures, not crippling them with debts.”
“Yesterday’s announcement that the Tories will slash of maintenance grants is a disgrace. This represents a huge attack on access to education and see students burdened with thousands of pounds more debt.
“The last government was adamant that the rise in tuition fees hasn't deterred people from low-income backgrounds applying and going to university. Cutting these grants, however, that provides over 3,000 pounds a year in support for student from low income backgrounds, will guarantee that this group will not to enter higher education.”
GET INVOLVED WITH THE #KeepTheGrants CAMPAIGN
We need to build a big movement to show how massive the opposition to the Tories’ scrapping of maintenance grants is. Our aim is simple: force a government u-turn on this issue.
Here are three simple steps you can take today to get involved:
Last night we started a photo campaign to #KeepTheGrants, with more than 50 students taking part, Labour MPs Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn as well as Natalie Bennett leader of the Green Party.
Simply download and print the sign available here, take a photo and tweet/facebook it on the hashtag #KeepTheGrants. If you send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, we will share them on the Student Assembly facebook page.
2. SIGN THE PETITION
At the time of writing this article 22,000 people have already signed this petition to save student maintenance grants. Sign, share and let’s try and get this up to 100,000 to show how big the opposition is to these plans.
3. GET READY TO PROTEST AGAINST THE TORIES
From Sunday 4 October the Tories are meeting in Manchester for their annual Conference. We are joining forces with trade unionists, People’s Assembly Against Austerity groups and others to protest against austerity!
Join the student bloc for the protest here, invite your friends and start getting a group of students from your university or college ready to attend the protest. We want to make a central message of this demonstration #KeepTheGrants!
If you’d like to be more involved in the planning of this demonstration please email us on email@example.com with the subject ‘Tory Party Protest volunteer’.