7 April 2022
by Claire Callender

Higher education is a route out of poverty, but a government loan cap would block it

For Claire Callender, proposals which limit eligibility to student loans undermines recent rhetoric around levelling-up

In 2019-20, 95 per cent of full-time undergraduate students took out a tuition fee loan and 91 per cent took a maintenance loan.

Our research shows that all but the very wealthiest of students depend on loans to fund their higher education. Without loans, university is simply unaffordable, except for the rich. Yet the government is considering restricting access to student loans for those with low GCSE English and maths grades. This would hit primarily one student group – the most disadvantaged.

A regressive cap
This potential restriction on loan eligibility is a cap on student numbers, through the backdoor. But it is not a cap on all potential students, just the most deprived. Around a half of disadvantaged young people get grade 4 in English and maths GCSE compared with the national average of 71 per cent. And this attainment gap is growing. Others getting disappointing results live in some of the poorest regions in England, are more likely to be pupils from Black and White ethnic categories and to be young men.

You can read the full blog on the Wonkhe site here.