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Student Loans Dividing the Rich from the Poor

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

According to an academic study, university education in England is entrenching inequality, with the current system being predicted on students being able to supplement their income from family wealth, meaning those from less privileged backgrounds struggle.

The study, laid out in the book Student Lives in Crises: Deepening Inequality in Times of Austerity, suggests that the reliance on family sources has a direct effect on the reproduction of inequality.

The research indicates that a mismatch has grown between the anticipated benefits of a university education and the reality of poor living conditions while a student, and the job opportunities on leaving.

Antonucci, senior lecturer in social policy and sociology at Teeside University said: "The grants have gone. The loans are not enough and they [the Student Loans Company] assume that families will contribute."

It's also argued that there is correlation between what happens inside and outside the lecture room with a third of students in England reporting wellbeing issues.

Antonucci added that: "There is incredible demand for support. Students who have fewer resources are stressed and feel guilty that their family are in debt or have to mobilise their inheritance, and this puts a pressure on young people at university."

As a result of family wealth playing an ever important role in the experiences of students while at university, some students struggle to get by and have to juggle work and study, whilst others are able to enjoy university life without the need to get a job thereby creating a two-tiered university experience.

Antonucci argues instead for a universal student support, on the basis that an assessment of family income does not take into account debt or reflect the availability of support.