BUDGET DAY: Low income Sheffield students could be ‘averse’ to taking on extra debt as grant axed for loan

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Students on low incomes could be ‘averse’ to taking on extra debt after maintenance grants were axed and maintenance loans introduced, a University of Sheffield director has said.

But Tony Strike, director of strategy, planning and change said it was hoped that the achievement of a degree, graduate jobs and earnings would mitigate the effect.

Around 40 per cent of the university’s current undergraduates get a full or partial maintenance grant for living costs, which runs on a sliding scale with a maximum of £3,387.

The university also ‘tops up’ support with £5.5 million of funding support.

Under the new maintenance loan, students will be able to borrow up to £8,200 which they will then pay back when they begin to earn £21,000 a year after graduation.

Chancellor George Osborne said it was the ‘highest amount of support ever available.’

Mr Strike said: “What we don’t want to happen is for those with ambition and ability but who come from households with low incomes to be put off from realising their ambition.

“That decision may have become slightly harder today because of the changes to the maintance grant but we still want people with ambition and ability to come to university and realise their dream.”

A rise in university tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000 a year was controversial under the last Government, after Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg pledged not to raise them and then did so when he became part of the coalition.

It has been reported since the election that they could rise again.