Hull North MP Diana Johnson today backed Labour’s last-ditch attempt to halt Tory plans to replace student maintenance grants for students from poorer backgrounds with loans from 2016.
Tories voted down the Labour move in the Commons to annul the measure by votes 306 votes to 292.
The Government’s own Equality Impact Assessment shows that the changes would affect around 500,000 of the poorest students - including disabled, older learners and women.
The change would mean that the poorest 40% of students going to university in England will graduate with debts of up to £53,000 from a three-year course. It will also hit students studying at further education colleges.
The Tories had tried to force through the sweeping changes – which were not in their 2015 General Election Manifesto - in committee rather than on the floor of the House of Commons, hidden away from public scrutiny.
Diana Johnson MP said: “Maintenance grants provide vital support for Hull students from lower income backgrounds who aspire to get on and get the qualifications needed for the modern jobs that are Hull’s future.
“Grants help to ensure that poorer students do not leave university with greater debts than their more privileged peers. This will now change after Tories voted to force through their plans.
“The Tory Minister defending the policy in the Commons was privately educated and went to Eton and Oxford. It will not hamper the life opportunities for people like him.
“The Government should be doing all it can to ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds reach their full potential and do not waste their talents. Instead Ministers forced through a backward-looking measure to save £270m, after spending £3bn cutting the 50p tax rate for the richest.
“This change also comes on top of the tripling of tuition fees and the axing of the Educational Maintenance Allowance that have also hit areas like Hull the hardest since 2010. Indeed, when the Coalition Government tripled tuition fees they said that Maintenance Grants would help to protect poorer students.”