Report suggests increasing fees for richest students to fund free tuition for poorest
The proposal comes amid student protests demanding free education for all – not just the poorest students.
Tuition fees for students from the wealthiest backgrounds should be increased to help fund free education for the poorest students, according to a report by an educational charity.
The Sutton Trust's proposal to means-test tuition fees would involve students with a household income of over £100,000 paying £12,250 a year, and those with a household income of less than £25,000 receiving free tuition.
Students whose household income sits between those two figures would have their fees set by a sliding scale. As well as revamping tuition fees, the charity has also called for grants to be re-introduced for poorer students.
The release of the report comes just a day after thousands of students took to the streets of London to demand free education for all, funded by increased taxes on the rich.
How would the proposals help students?
According to the Sutton Trust, UK students are graduating with an average debt of around £46,000. However, for students from the 40% poorest households that figure rises to £51,600, while the richest 20% have debts of around £38,400.
This huge disparity is thanks in no small part to the need for poorer students to take out larger maintenance loans, particularly since the abolition abolition of maintenance loans.
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Revising tuition fees and re-introducing grants would, says the report, reduce the average student debt by almost half (to £23,300), and cut it by 75% for the poorest students (to an average of £12,700).
The Sutton Trust also examined the government's plans to raise the repayment threshold from £21,000 a year to £25,000.
Analysis conducted by London Economics on their behalf found that this would result in 45% of student debt never being repaid, while around 80% of students would never pay back their debt in full before it's cancelled after 30 years.
What about free education for everyone?
Yesterday also saw thousands of students march through central London calling for tuition fees to be completely abolished. The protesters suggested that free education for all should be funded by increased taxes on the rich.
In a pre-recorded video message to the protesters, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said:
The political establishment has betrayed young people. Since 2010, the Tories have made unprecedented cuts to further education.
Now the Tories think that capping university fees at £9,250 will be some sort of remedy to all this. What an insult. Everyone should have access to free education, from the cradle to the grave.
The good news is that we won't have to wait too long to find out just what – if anything – the government plans to do about student debt.
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, will announce his autumn budget next Wednesday, and we'll be bringing you all the student finance news as and when we get it!
Maintenance grants may have been abolished, but you could still be eligible for extra funding. Check out our guide to grants, bursaries and scholarships for more info.