From education to employment

Higher education student finance 2023 to 2024: equality analysis

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A number of policy proposals considered in this equality analysis concern changes to student finance arrangements for the 2023/24 academic year with maximum loans and grants for living and other costs and postgraduate loans uplifted by 2.8%.

  • Increases in grants that act as a contribution towards the cost of living for students starting full-time undergraduate courses before 1 September 2016 by 2.8%.
  • Increases in dependants’ grants for full-time undergraduate courses by 2.8%.
  • Increases in loans for living costs for undergraduate courses by 2.8%.
  • Increases in disabled students allowance for full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses by 2.8%.
  • Increases in loans for students starting postgraduate master’s degree courses and doctoral degree courses in 2023/24 by 2.8%.

Our overall assessment is that these proposed changes will overall have a negative impact for students with and without protected characteristics. This is because a 13.7% increase would be required to maintain the value of loans and grants for living and other costs in real terms using the 2020/21 academic year as a baseline, as measured by CPI1, due to the recent spike in inflation. Therefore a 2.8%2 increase in maximum support for 2023/24 will not restore the erosion in purchasing power since 2020/21 and is unlikely to prevent a further erosion in purchasing power by the start of the 2023/24 academic year.

Read more here.

Sector Response

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said:

“The fact that the DfE’s own equality assessment says uplifting maintenance loans by just 2.8% next year will have a negative impact on students underlines how flawed the system is.

“But what’s worse is that the Department responsible and the regulator which is supposed to be on the side of students just seem to be shrugging their shoulders. 

“Let’s be clear: the Government has a choice, it is actively choosing to ignore its own analysis — as well as our analysis and that of the IFS — and this choice will leave students out of pocket by over £1,500.

“This is why our universities are stepping up support where possible, including providing millions of pounds of extra financial assistance to students. However, additional help is urgently needed from the Government. As an immediate step, we have urged the Government to address flaws in the maintenance loans system and uplift loans so they reflect inflation since 2020/21.”

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