Photo by William Pinkney-Baird
Photo: William Pinkney-Baird

The youth and student wing of the Green Party has criticised the government over its plans to scrap maintenance grants for poorer students, as contained in yesterday’s Budget.

The Green Party’s Spokesperson for Higher Education, Dave Cocozza, said:

“These proposals are incredibly damaging to ensuring diversity in higher education, potentially causing those from less wealthy families to have even more of a reason to leave education at 18, not to mention giving mature students and adult learners even more of a reason not to return to learning.

“As someone who relied on the grant to get through university, I am incredibly disheartened at these plans and I intend to campaign furiously against them alongside other leading student campaigners and voices in parliament. Converting them into loans and pushing students even further into debt is not the solution – we need a diverse higher education system, providing a diverse educated workforce, to grow a diverse economy. Taking that chance away from working-class people like me is a disgrace and only furthers the thought that is government is hell-bent on marginalising the most disadvantaged in our society.”

Clifford Fleming, Young Greens Co-Chair and co-founder of the Green Students campaign, said:

“This is a callous and deeply reprehensible move by a government hell-bent on meeting its arbitrary spending targets no matter the cost. Maintenance grants are absolutely vital for so many students, and to remove this support from poorer students deals a real blow to social mobility in this country. In recent years, despite skyrocketing rents, a rising cost of living and a dire shortage of skilled jobs, all this government has done for graduates is push them further into debt. The young people of this country deserve better.”

The Young Greens have pledged to fight the plans alongside the NUS and higher education trade unions, with the launch of the Green Party’s Keep the Grants campaign.