Socialist Students. Photo: Mary Finch
Socialist Students. Photo: Mary Finch

Charlie Jarvis, Liverpool Socialist Students

Nearly 50% of students experience financial hardship during their studies, according to the latest Department for Education statistics. The crumbling Conservative government, anxious as ever to create a good headline, has now pledged a one-off £10 million hardship fund for students in the 2024-25 academic year, alongside an increase of 2.5% to maintenance loans.

To call this an ‘increase’ is disingenuous given the high inflation over recent years, thanks in no small part to the financial chaos caused by multiple Tory prime ministers and the unaccountable ‘markets’.

In other words, this pledge is a real-terms cut to maintenance loans, which are already too low for many students to live on. 99% of the average loan is spent solely on rent.

Students in recent years have often felt undervalued and ignored by politicians, and the current cost-of-living crisis has exacerbated this issue. Compare this to the electrifying effect Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge for free education had on campuses.

On top of the inflation crisis, in 2023 the Tories announced that the student loan repayment threshold would be reduced by nearly £3,000, alongside the length of repayment being increased from 30 to 40 years, for students beginning their courses last September.

Of course, this is not an issue of lack of funds, rather, another example of the capitalist class attacking the ‘social mobility’ they purport to promote. We must call for an end to extortionate student loans, for fair maintenance grants for all students, and for this to be paid for by those at the top. An educated population is beneficial for everyone, and this should be recognised by ensuring the right to free education for all.

The cost-of-living crisis is one that is artificially created by the bosses, and the burden shouldn’t fall on the shoulders either of students or the working class.

Come to Socialist Students conference to discuss how to fight back.