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Russell Group Head Wants Maintenance Grants Restored

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

The head of Russell Group universities has called for maintenance grants to be reinstated to help improve diversity in higher education.

According to Tim Bradshaw, who leads the Russell Group, restoring maintenance grants could make a "substantial difference" to those worried about high levels of debt, whilst also encouraging more people to apply.

Maintenance grants were dropped in September 2016 after Chancellor George Osborne described them as "unaffordable" and "unfair", however critics argue low and middle-income students could be put off by the measure.

The Russell Group comprises of 24 research led universities and has been criticised for failing to attract students from minority and less privileged backgrounds.

However, Mr Bradshaw has suggested the government should make more of funding available to help improve access, rather than just blaming universities.

The group will be submitting proposals to government on ways to restore maintenance grants, including the introduction of a "living wage" for students who had been eligible for school meals during their school years.

Mr Bradshaw added: "It could be very targeted, really cost-effective and actually make quite a substantial difference to those from disadvantaged backgrounds who may inherently be very nervous about taking on an additional loan."

In response, a Department for Education spokesperson said poorer undergraduates are getting more help than ever and that the department is working with the national regulator to encourage more young people to apply from disadvantaged groups.