AXING student grants while hiking up university fees to an eyewatering £9,500 a year has driven tens of thousands of students out of education, new figures released on A-level results day have shown.
The number of UK students accepted on to degree courses within the country has fallen to 353,960, down two per cent on last year, the UCAS figures show. Meanwhile, nursing student numbers have fallen by a further four per cent in the last year, and 11 per cent since student funding was removed in 2016, the figures reveal. This, the nursing union RCN warned, has put patient safety in jeopardy, as less student nurses mean less nurses and midwives in the future.
Calling for the nurses’ and midwives’ bursary to be reinstated RCN said: ‘The nurse staffing crisis looks set to worsen. With England’s health care services already struggling to cope in the face of 40,000 nursing vacancies, the RCN has warned the fall in student numbers further jeopardises the future supply of nurses, and puts safe patient care at risk.’
The University and College Union (UCU) used A-level results day to stress the problems of universities using ‘predicted grades’ guessed before students have actually sat their exams, rather then using their real exam grades, to decide whether to offer students a place at their university or not.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The current system of predicted grades is highly inaccurate, and encourages the use of unconditional offers which make a mockery of exams and published entry requirements. ‘Instead of relying on guesswork, students should be empowered to choose the institution that’s right for them once their grades are known.
‘It is time for the UK to grasp the nettle and join the rest of the world by moving to a fairer system where offers are based on actual achievement rather than vague estimates of potential.’ Young Socialists national secretary Joshua Ogunleye said: ‘Students worked really hard to achieve their A-level results, only to be put off going to university because of the prospect of ending up with a lifetime of debt. Many students now graduate with over £50,000 worth of debt!
‘Student nurses’ and midwives’ bursaries must be restored. Furthermore, the full living grant must be restored to each and every student, regardless of what subject they are studying. ‘And on top of this, the university tuition fees must be abolished and free education restored to all.
‘This government has no intention of doing that. They are determined to drive working class students out of education, making it a preserve of the sons and daughters of the rich. ‘This is just one of the burning issues we will be raising at the Young Socialists lobby of the TUC on September 9th (See advert on this page) and we urge everyone to join in. ‘We demand the TUC call the entire working class out on strike to bring this government down. That is the only way to restore free education.’