The Government wants to block people getting a student loan if they do not achieve a minimum C grade in both Maths and English at GCSE level or two E grade A-levels.
It is also proposing that graduates start repaying their student loans when they earn £25,000 per year, rather than the current highest threshold of £27,295 per year, and increase how long graduates repay their loans from 30 years to 40 years.
Larissa Kennedy, National Union of Students UK president, said: “The Government’s changes to student loans are calculated cruelness. These changes will save the highest earners £20,000, whilst new graduates on lower and middle incomes tens of thousands of pounds will pay back thousands more over the course of their careers.
“At a time where the cost of living is soaring and real earnings are crashing, for the more vulnerable, these classist changes could be the difference between heating and eating. The minister is saddling young people with unimaginable debt for the next forty years of their lives.
“Their plans to introduce minimum entry requirements are an attack on opportunity. This Government parrots the language of ‘levelling up’ but these proposals are classist, ableist and racist: they cruelly target those from marginalised communities, and seek to gatekeep education.”
The government said the aim of the changes was to “drive up quality of university courses and ensure degrees equip students with the skills they need” as well as make the higher education system “fairer for students and taxpayers”.
Michelle Donelan, higher and further education minister, said: “We are delivering a fairer system for students, graduates and taxpayers as well as future-proofing the student finance system. We are freezing tuition fees and slashing interest rates for new student loan borrowers, making sure that under these terms no-one will pay back more than they have borrowed in real terms.”
Demonstrations will take place across the country outside Department for Education offices.
Protesters will gather outside 2 St Paul’s Place, 125 Norfolk Street, in Sheffield city centre, from 1pm on Tuesday, May 3, ahead of the close of the Government’s consultation on Friday, May 6.
The consultation can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/higher-education-policy-statement-and-reform