Stu­dent loans are deeply un­fair

The Guardian - - JOURNAL LETTERS - Alan Wood­ley Dr Mark El­lis Peter Kayes

In your piece about the Open Univer­sity (Jobs put at risk as Open Univer­sity seeks £100m in sav­ings, 14 June) you men­tion the im­pact of the in­tro­duc­tion of tu­ition fees. In fact, OU stu­dents have al­ways paid tu­ition fees and th­ese in­creased, in line with in­fla­tion, for over 40 years.

The ham­mer blow came when the gov­ern­ment forced the OU to triple fees in line with con­ven­tional uni­ver­si­ties. The sweet­ener of­fered in re­turn was ac­cess to stu­dent loans. How­ever, this did not work out be­cause many did not qual­ify for th­ese loans. Many who would have qual­i­fied were strongly averse to stu­dent debt. Stu­dent num­bers dropped by a third al­most overnight.

The vice chan­cel­lor is look­ing for sal­va­tion in the cloud. He would per­haps be bet­ter em­ployed pray­ing for a Jeremy Cor­byn vic­tory. Cor­byn is pledged to abol­ish­ing tu­ition fees and that must in­clude part-time stu­dents, mustn’t it? Northamp­ton • The stu­dent loan sys­tem has al­ways been deeply flawed. Not only is the ba­sis eco­nom­i­cally un­sound, but the cost of this grad­u­ate tax falls heav­ily on women be­cause of the higher pro­por­tion of fe­male to male un­der­grad­u­ates.

In ad­di­tion, as you have re­cently shown (Re­port, 14 June), women face a pay gap just one year af­ter grad­u­at­ing, and will, over a work­ing life­time, on av­er­age earn £300,000 less.

High-earn­ing male grad­u­ates re­pay the loan quickly with min­i­mum in­ter­est, while women grad­u­ates, strug­gling to balance work with fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, are ad­versely af­fected be­cause in­ter­est ac­crues dur­ing ca­reer breaks. This dis­ad­van­tage, in turn, im­pacts on the next gen­er­a­tion. Hud­der­s­field • Your ar­ti­cle (Young peo­ple have spo­ken: will their voice be heard over univer­sity fees and grants?, 13 June) in­cludes a re­minder from David Green that stu­dent loans are now in­creas­ing at a rate of around 6% a year, which over the 25 years a loan is paid back will re­sult in a sub­stan­tial in­crease in the cost of the loan, well in ex­cess of the rate of in­fla­tion.

When stu­dent fees were first in­tro­duced the ba­sis was that in­creases would be in line with in­fla­tion. The rules have changed and this ad­di­tional bur­den is the price stu­dents will have to pay for the pri­vati­sa­tion of stu­dent loans by the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment. An­other re­minder that pri­vati­sa­tion and Tory gov­ern­ment do not work in the in­ter­ests of the many. Read­ing

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