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Calls for Maintenance Loans Increase

The University of Worcester and Worcester Students’ Union have called on the Government to increase maintenance loans for students as the cost of living continues to rise.

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The University of Worcester and Worcester Students’ Union have called on the Government to increase maintenance loans for students as the cost of living continues to rise.

The Government confirmed on Wednesday that maintenance loans and grants for undergraduate and postgraduate students would rise by just 2.8% for the 2023/24 academic year. This is well below the current 10.7% rate of inflation.

Professor David Green CBE DL, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University, said: “As a university, we are committed to doing all we can to help our students at this time of rising costs. We are seeing increasing applications to our generous Access to Learning Fund and have provided many students with help via this route.

“We are pleased that the Government has committed a further £15m to support hardship funds. However, the reality is that this only amounts to around £6 per student.

“We also work hard to provide valuable earn as you learn opportunities for our students. We employ around 700 students each year in roles across the University, while also providing access to additional qualifications in such areas as coaching and tutoring, which enable students to find employment opportunities relevant to their studies whilst earning their degree.

“But we know that things are difficult for many students, and it is therefore very disappointing that the maintenance loan will only rise by 2.8%. Students should be able to borrow more at this time of need.”

Gemma Allcott and Meg Lee, Vice Presidents of Worcester Students’ Union, added: “Worcester Students’ Union are disappointed to see that the maintenance loan is only going to increase by 2.8% for the 2023/34 year, whilst the current rate of inflation is 10.7%.

“Alongside rising energy bills, rent and transport costs, this increase is not going to be enough to make a meaningful different to our students.

“We acknowledge the Government is increasing hardship funding available to universities by £15 million. However, this does not go far enough to address the financial issues we see our students facing.

“At Worcester Students’ Union, we regularly see students impacted by the cost-of-living and call on the Government to take meaningful action to support our students, who will go on to be valuable working members of our society.”

The Government has also confirmed that tuition fees will stay frozen at £9,250 for the next two years and that there will be no restoration of government grants. Government grants to universities for student education were largely abolished in 2012. With fees frozen since 2017 and rising inflation, universities now receive £4,400 less per student every year which is causing real financial difficulties for many institutions.

From September 2020 students studying on undergraduate Nursing, Midwifery, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Paramedic Science courses have been eligible for a non-repayable and non-means-tested payment of at least £5,000 a year, in addition to existing mainstream student support. Some undergraduate and postgraduate courses leading to Qualified Teacher Status are also eligible for bursaries.

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