Petition Increase the maintenance loan to cover the UK average university accommodation.

The world university rankings website published that the 2017 average price for accommodation was £125 weekly outside of London. With most contracts being 42 weeks or 52 weeks this would work out to be £5250 (42week) or £6500 (52week), but the maximum loan some people are entitled to is only £3928.

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The desire of this petition is that the Government match the minimum maintenance loan to the UK university accommodation annual average.

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Government responded

This response was given on 24 April 2019

The Government has no plans to change the minimum maintenance loan so that it is linked to average UK accommodation costs. This would place additional demands on public spending.

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The Government is committed to helping students with their living costs while attending university. Full-time students on low incomes have access to the highest levels of support on record for their living costs.

Under the current student finance system, we have seen a record rate of full-time 18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university. In fact, disadvantaged 18 year olds were 52% more likely to enter a full-time undergraduate course at university in 2018 than in 2009.

For 2018/19, eligible students on family incomes of £25,000 or less who are living away from home and studying outside London will qualify for a maintenance loan of £8,700 increasing to £8,944 for the 2019/20 academic year. Living costs support increased by 10.3% for eligible students on the lowest incomes in 2016/17 compared to the previous system with further inflationary increases for the 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 academic years.

The Government has no plans to change the minimum maintenance loan so that it is linked to average UK accommodation costs. This would place additional demands on public spending, which would be met through higher taxation, including on those who have not themselves benefited from University. It could also lead to price increases in student accommodation. The Government plays no direct role in the provision of student residential accommodation regardless of whether the accommodation is managed by universities or private sector organisations.

Maintenance loans are a contribution towards a student’s living costs at University rather than necessarily to cover them in their entirety. Survey evidence shows students’ living costs vary widely and it is therefore not realistic to come up with one figure that represents “the cost of attending university”. Students supplement their living costs support through a variety of means, including parental support, their own employment, or savings.

Maintenance loans are means tested on the basis of the student’s household income. The highest amounts of living cost support are targeted at students from the lowest income families, who need it most.

The Government is committed to providing information for students to enable them to make informed choices about where they study and which courses to choose. Institutions are required to submit data to the Unistats Data Collection about their courses which is published on the Unistats website. As part of this collection, institutions provide links to their own websites which include information about accommodation costs.

The Government recognises however that there is more to be done. The Prime Minister announced a major review of post-18 education in February 2018 to drive up quality, increase choice and ensure value for money. The review is looking at a wide range of issues, including how we can ensure that the education system for those aged 18 years and over is accessible to all, and is supported by a funding system that provides value for money and works for students and taxpayers. The independent panel will report shortly. The Government will then conclude the overall review later this year.

Department for Education.

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