Could the reintroduction of maintenance grants win the student vote?

A new student survey has found that students are more likely to vote for a party in the upcoming general election that want to reintroduce maintenance grants for University students.

University maintenance grants were first scrapped in 2015, after the government deemed them ‘unaffordable’, and were instead replaced with the loans that are still in place today.

However, in order to win the student vote in December 12th’s election, several political parties are promising to scrap tuition fees and loans, and instead replace them with grants that don’t need to be repaid.

In a survey carried out by NUS (National Union of Students), 68% of current University students who use student finance are more likely to vote for a party offering the reintroduction of grants.

As well as this, students aged 23 to 29, and 30 to 49 years old, were also found to be more likely to support a party who claims to want to tackle the problem of student debt.

The survey found that students living in Scotland, Yorkshire, Humberside and North West England were the most likely to have student debt influence their decision.

Claire Sosienski Smith, the Vice President of NUS, said “the education system has been broken for so long that a lot of the work we must do is raise the expectations of students that an education doesn’t need to bankrupt you.”

“We know that a student finance system based on individual debt is fundamentally flawed,” she added.

The General Election survey carried out by NUS also stated that two thirds of students were unable to pay for everything they needed at University with their Student Finance loan once they had paid their rent.

In their manifesto, Labour has promised to abolish tuition fees and reintroduce maintenance grants, with the Liberal Democrats vowing to reinstate the grants as well.

The Green party also want to scrap undergraduate tuition fees, and write-off existing debt for students who studied before the £9000-a-year charge was introduced.

The Conservative party however, plan to cut fees from £9,250 to £7,500-a-year for current University students.

By Faith Pring

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