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The government's unfair retrospective changes to student loans - a blog by Cllr James-J Walsh

The Chancellor George Osborne announced during the Autumn Statement to retrospectively increase your student loan repayments by £306/yr until a students debt is repaid, he also decided future student nurses & other NHS Bursary supported students will no longer get a bursary, instead they will have to take loans instead. On top of this, Maintenance Grants for the poorest students will also be stopped.

Currently, students in England who started university from 2012 will pay 9% of everything earned above £21,000 a year (or £1,750/month pre-tax salary) once they graduate.

In 2010, the Government promised that from April 2017 this repayment threshold would be upped each year in line with average earnings. This meant graduates would have been spared having to repay more of their income towards their student loans, and fewer would have had to start repaying them in the first place.

It has now backtracked on the promise given to students, effectively hiking costs retrospectively. A move that, according to the Government, will mean more than two million graduates will end up paying £306 more each year by 2020-21 if they earn over £21,000.

The current government plans to scrap maintenance grants for full-time Higher Education students in England and replace them with more loans instead.


FACT: Maintenance Grants support thousands of students from the lowest income households every year, and the Government's plan will saddle poorer students with yet more debt.

If the government gets its way and maintenance grants are replaced with loans, the impact will be detrimental to hundreds of thousands of the poorest students studying in England for years to come.

What are maintenance grants and what are the proposed changes?

  • Maintenance grants are given to students from lower income households to help with their living costs.
  • The maximum grant is £3,387 per year for students whose household income is less than £25k.
  • NUS understands that currently, approximately 500,000 students rely on maintenance grants
  • The government proposals would stop all grants to new students from September 2016, forcing poorer students to take on further debt to fund their studies.

Student Nurses & NHS Bursaries

The Government’s decision to replace nursing students’, midwives, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, podiatrists, radiographers, dietetics, ODP's and other students on NHS supported bursaries with loans is extremely disappointing.

Those who made this decision simply don’t understand that NHS funded courses are not like other degrees.

They don’t understand that 50% of course time is dedicated to unpaid clinical practice, caring for real people and their families. They haven’t grasped that the academic year is longer, which means there are fewer opportunities to earn money between terms.

From September 2017, any student applying for a nursing degree will have to take out a loan to cover their tuition fees.

UNISON has calculated that a student graduating in 2020 could leave with debts over £50,000, yet be starting out in the wokplace on a salary under £23,000.

Cllr James-J Walsh

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