BIS Mishandles Budget and Takes Money from Poorest Students to Plug the Gap
According to a recent report by Andrew McGettigan, the gamble that the government has taken with higher education has just taken a turn for the worse with BIS failing at the most basic of tasks – that of managing its budget. The key issue, according to McGettigan, is that losses on student loans (caused by a higher than expected loan outlay and the poor performance of the economy, meaning that students are earning less and therefore making lower repayments than expected) now have to be covered by departmental expenditure as the Treasury refuses to continue issuing additional reserves. Where is this money going to come from? Well, according to The Guardian, it is likely to come from ‘cutting £350m of grants to the UK’s poorest students and slashing £215m from ringfenced science funding‘.
Just as we have predicted, the ill-thought out combination of competition and the introduction of income contingent loans is seriously damaging the prospects for students in England. It’s increasingly apparent that the scheme is going to be more expensive than that which it replaces, threatening to further curtail opportunities by requiring the government to restrict student numbers. It increases the burden of debt on students and encourages some to invest in sub-prime education at the same time that ONS data shows that graduate incomes have been falling since the recession.
Universities have a special responsibility for students and their future, but they have been more willing to secure their own financial benefits. It’s time for senior figures in higher education to speak out publically in defence of English higher education.