To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of maintenance loans rising by 2.3 per cent on (1) ethnic minority, and (2) disadvantaged, students.
9 January 2023
Decisions on student support are taken on an annual basis. The department has continued to increase student living costs support each year with a 2.3% increase to maximum loans and grants for living and other costs for the 2022/23 academic year. Students who have been awarded a loan for living costs for the 2022/23 academic year that is lower than the maximum, and whose household income for the tax year 2022/23 has dropped by at least 15% compared to the income provided for their original assessment, can apply for their entitlement to be reassessed.
An Equality Impact Assessment was undertaken prior to a decision being taken on increases to maintenance loans and grants by 2.3%. The overall assessment was that the changes would have a marginally positive impact for those with and without protected characteristics. This can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-student-finance-2022-to-2023-equality-analysis.
The UCAS end of cycle report shows that in 2022 there were record numbers of 18-year-olds getting into university, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds. An English 18-year-old from a disadvantaged background today is 86% more likely to go to university than in 2010.
The department’s widening participation publication from 2022 shows that progression to higher education has increased across all students, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds. Black pupils have seen the greatest increase in the proportion entering HE by age 19, increasing from 44.1% in 2009/10 to 62.1% in 2020/21.
The department recognises the additional cost of living pressures that have arisen this year which have affected students. Decisions on student finance will have to be taken alongside other spending priorities to ensure the system remains financially sustainable and the costs of higher education (HE) are shared fairly between students and taxpayers, not all of whom have benefited from going to university.
Many HE providers have hardship funds that students can apply to for assistance. There is £261 million of student premium funding available this academic year to support disadvantaged students who need additional help. The department works alongside the Office for Students to ensure that universities support students in hardship, using both hardship funds and drawing on the student premium.
In addition, all households will save on their energy bills through the Energy Price Guarantee and the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme discount. Students who buy their energy from a domestic supplier are eligible for the energy bills discount. The Energy Prices Act, passed on 25 October 2022, includes the provision to require landlords to pass benefits they receive from energy price support, as appropriate, onto end users. Further details of the requirements under this Act are set out in the legislation.