Universities welcome student loan threshold change, but warn of more long-term planning needed

University of Suffolk said more long term planning was still needed. Picture: GREGG BROWN

University of Suffolk said more long term planning was still needed. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Universities in the region have welcomed plans by the education secretary to up the threshold for student loan repayments – but have warned that long term solutions are needed for higher education funding.

Tim Greenacre from the University of Suffolk. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Tim Greenacre from the University of Suffolk. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER - Credit: Archant

On October 1, education secretary Justine Greening announced a raft of measures to improve provision of education and skills in the country after Brexit.

Among the measures was help for students by raising the earning threshold for student loan repayments from £21,000 a year to £25,000 a year.

The announcement also included a freeze on tuition fees for the 2018/19 academic entry year at their current rate in a bid to encourage students to university.

But the University of Suffolk has warned that while the measures are a positive step, long-term planning was still needed.

The University of Essex said it was important to help students of all backgrounds. Picture: ARCHANT

The University of Essex said it was important to help students of all backgrounds. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant


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University of Suffolk registrar and secretary Tim Greenacre said: “Any measures that encourage students, especially those from poorer backgrounds, into higher education are welcomed.

“We know that many potential students see the cost of going to university as a barrier so anything that can alleviate this is a good thing.

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“However there needs to be a stable and workable solution to funding higher education.

“Any arbitrary cuts or changes to fees and repayments without proper long term planning would not be helpful for the future of the sector in the UK especially given the challenges the country face post Brexit.”

At the University of Essex, staff said it was important to enable people regardless of background to reach university.

University of Essex registrar Bryn Morris said: “We believe every student who has the ability and talent to benefit from an Essex education should have the opportunity to do so, regardless of background and we already have a very good record on providing access to higher education for students from low income backgrounds, BAME backgrounds and those who are the first in their family to go to University.

“The UK’s funding regime should promote fair access while ensuring universities like Essex can continue to deliver the high-quality, transformative educational experience celebrated by our recent ranking in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide.”

Jenny Milsom, deputy principal of One sixth form in Ipswich, said any actions that broke down barriers for students furthering their studies “could be considered as being positive news”.

But she added: “Speaking generally and specifically about One, many leave us and go to university, however, the number of students looking at alternative routes post A-level results is increasing, with some starting their own businesses and others earning whilst they learn following a Higher Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship route.

“It’s very much down to the individual as to what they do in the future and what works for them. We will certainly give advice and guidance on all of the options – and support the individual in whatever they decide to do.”

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