Roberta speaking at the Higher Education Conference 2018
Roberta speaking at the Higher Education Conference 2018

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Higher Education Conference about the future of student fees and university funding. I believe it is unacceptable and frankly extremely unfair that in 2017, the average rate of debt for the poorest students rose to £57,000.

Equally unacceptable is that the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has found that graduates in England leave university with the highest debts in the developed world due to high fees, increased interest rates (now up to 6.1%) and the replacement of maintenance grants with loans.

While I am pleased the Government is carrying out a review of post-18 education, the review must look at the fact that the IFS has found that three quarters of UK graduates will never pay off their full debt even if they are repaying it in their fifties.

This shows that we need a much more sustainable system of funding our universities – one that encourages a strong university system, and that supports all learners from all social backgrounds to reach their potential.

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