On 14 January 2016, 18 Members of Parliament voted to scrap all maintenance grants for new undergraduates from 2016/17, and replace them with loans.
This will have a wide-reaching impact on our community and our concern lies with current and future students who will take on even more debt during the course of their studies or not be able to take up places at universities due to the increased financial pressure.
This is life changing for some, not only for those affected students who won’t be able to fulfil their potential, but to the wider community who won’t be able to benefit from the brilliant minds these students possess. In many cases, this will affect students from low-income families and disproportionately affect students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and disabled students.
Stuart has written before about how the grant system supported him through his UG degree some thirty years ago and enabled him to complete his final year. We feel deeply that today’s and tomorrow’s students should also have this opportunity and are very concerned about the implications of this change of government policy. We are fully receptive to the concerns raised by students and staff alike, and we do not want this issue to slip under the radar.
At Senate on 8th March, Isaac Leigh, President of the Students' Union, presented a paper and gave a verbal report on the issue. The outcome of this was discussed at Council on 18th May. We appreciate that this can seem frustratingly slow, but in order for us to have the most impact with all issues we face, we have to follow the University’s set procedures to ensure all aspects are considered.
Whilst not able to replace maintenance grants for the majority of our students, the SU are in discussions with the Registrar & Chief Operating Officer about the current provision of hardship funds. We would urge anyone considering applying for UG or PG courses at Warwick to read the information about bursaries, scholarship and support available and we urge current students to talk to the Student Support office, your Personal Tutor or Resident Life tutor if faced with any difficulties; not just financial, as we come to arguably the most challenging term of the academic year.
Stuart Croft (Vice-Chancellor and President)
Isaac Leigh (President, Warwick Students' Union)