Grants Not Debt


By Shula Kombe

In 2016 the government has now replaced maintenance grants with additional loans. This has saddled the poorest students with more debt than their rich counterparts because, without parental support, they now have to take out a much larger loan at the start of their courses.

All the evidence suggests that maintenance grants improved access for working class students. Yet the Government scrap them because the Conservatives are a party that represent the interests of the ruling class and big business, including in education, as opposed to the interests of workers and working class students.

The Government was successful in 2016, but we are fighting back. Maintenance grants have been scrapped (1998) and won back (2004) in the past – and we can do it again.  To win, we need a range of tactics, from lobbying to direct action, such as the #GrantsNotDebt Westminster Bridge blockade we organised in January 2016.

We must push for more than a return to an inadequate system of maintenance grants, though. What we need is not a scaled rate, but instead one level of grant that is enough to live on for all students. This means that no matter whether a student is shut out of their family, for whatever reason, and no matter how poor or rich a student’s’ family, they will be able to access university. Like the abolition of tuition fees, we can fund this by taxing the rich – those in society who can actually afford it.

To move forward we need to redouble our efforts – building the movement by convincing more and more people of our positive alternative to the Tories’ attacks on our education system, and harnessing our collective power. Join us on the national demonstration for free education on November 15th, where we’ll be demanding living grants for all students.


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