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Student Loan Changes: Social Mobility

Volume 710: debated on Monday 14 March 2022

8. What assessment he has made of the potential impact of changes to student loan requirements on social mobility. (906042)

Our changes mean a fairer deal for students, graduates and the taxpayer, and build on our work to drive up quality so that more young people go on to complete their education and then go on to graduate jobs, delivering real social mobility.

Decreasing eligibility, extending the repayment period and lowering the repayment threshold for student loans will disproportionately impact students from low-income families, and removing education opportunities will impact the trajectories of their lives and careers. What impact assessment has been undertaken on these changes from an equality perspective and how they will stifle student numbers?

When we published our response to Augar, we also published our impact assessment in full, but at the heart of our plans is fairness, as I have said, for the taxpayer, for students and for graduates. No student will pay back more in real terms than they borrow. This is the Government delivering on our manifesto pledge to cut interest rates.

Research by the Higher Education Policy Institute shows that 70% of parents with children aged 11 to 15 want their children to go to university, but the Government do not share their ambitions. Instead, the Minister is proposing minimum entry requirements of a grade 4 in GSCE English and maths to access student finance. About 70% of pupils in England achieve a grade 4 in GSCE English and Maths, but that falls to less than half for those on free school meals. Why is the Minister prepared to sacrifice the aspirations of students and their families, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds?

Once again, this shows the Opposition’s obsession with targets and numbers. We want an education system that delivers for the individual, whether that means going into further education, an apprenticeship or university. We want to ensure that every young person knows that whichever option they pick, it is a high-quality option.