Petition created for Oxford students to get London maintenance loan
A third-year student wants the government to give Oxford students the same maintenance loan as London students.
Oxford is often ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the UK, and now one Oxford Brookes student is taking a stand by demanding the government increase maintenance loans to match London.
Law student Ben Ellison believes the amount of money students living in Oxford receive does not reflect how expensive the city is, and that this is having a negative affect on students' experience.
His petition, which has so far garnered over 900 signatures, calls on the government to increase the amount of maintenance loan Oxford students receive so they're better able to cover living costs.
Studying and living in Oxford is financially straining on all students, affecting a student's ability to achieve the best grades possible, as they have to work long hours in a part time job just to live.
But why do London students receive more, and is it fair that Oxford students don't get the same? We spoke to petition creator Ben to find out more.
How does the maintenance loan work?
Currently, all students in the UK receive the same amount of maintenance loan (dependant on their household income). However, students studying and living in London receive more money, to accommodate London's higher living costs and rent prices.
The table below shows how much maintenance loan you'll receive in the 2018/19 academic year, depending on your household income and whether you're studying in London or not.
|Household income||Maintenance loan in London||Maintenance loan outside London|
As you can see, students in London receive around £2,500 more a year than a student with the same household income living outside London.
If you want to know even more about how your maintenance loan works make sure you go here.
Ben and the hundreds of students who have signed the petition, believe that Oxford is expensive enough to justify giving students living there the higher amount.
The cost of living in Oxford
According to the University of Oxford, student monthly living costs in Oxford are somewhere in the region of £1,002 - £1,471.
Even using the lower of those two figures, across nine months this equates to over £9,000 - meaning that the maximum maintenance loan of £8,700 still falls short.
However, if Oxford students were to receive the London maintenance loan instead, all students with household incomes of £40,000 or less would receive enough to cover these living expenses.
As it stands, many students are short on cash and relying on part-time jobs to supplement their income. Ben told us
Rent and living costs in Oxford are well above the national average.
For me, it means I have to work 20 hours a week in a part time job, as well as work as much overtime as I can on top of this.
A new precedent?
Ben isn't the first student to campaign for the London maintenance loan in another city.
Last year a similar petition campaigned for a review of maintenance loan allocation based on the fact that, in Surrey, students living Egham receive over £2,000 more each year than students living in Guildford a mere 20 miles away.
The petition garnered over 4,000 signatures but closed early because of the general election.
The Oxford campaign could be relevant for a lot of areas on the fringes of the capital, where the housing market has pushed up rent costs and the cost of living has risen sharply.
So does Ben hope the petition will catch on?
I hope the petition will encourage students from other cities to campaign for higher loans, but even if not, the government should realise that this is a nationwide issue.
London is not the only city that has high living costs and should not be treated as such.
The petition will run until November, and if it reaches 10,000 signatures, the Government will provide a response. Ben is determined to keep promoting the issue throughout the year, and is also keen to recruit local MPs to the cause.
If you think that you should receive the higher maintenance loan based on the cost of living where you study, let us know in the comments!