University of Essex calls on government to cut interest on student loans


Leading universities, including the University of Essex, are sending an open letter to the government urging it to provide more support for students due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The letter, which was addressed directly to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and can be viewed in full below, explains how the pandemic has hampered student opportunities.

Seven university vice-chancellors, including Professor Anthony Forster of the University of Essex, are now calling on Downing Street to cut interest on student loans.

They believe this would be seen as a “meaningful gesture” and also help graduates “get a better start at the start of their careers”.

The open letter, also addressed to the Secretary of Education and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, claims that the Covid-19 crisis has caused students to face increasing difficulties and need additional support to the future.

Read the full letter below:

Dear Prime Minister, Chancellor and Minister,

Students study against the backdrop of a deadly global pandemic. Our universities have sought every opportunity to support our students – by providing high quality online learning, supporting student well-being and addressing digital deficits. This has strained financial resources and, even with a redefinition of spending priorities, will lead to financial deficits. We believe that the government must now play its role in defending intergenerational equity.

The gap in opportunities and wealth between young and old is already too large – and the existing challenges are magnified by the impact of the pandemic on students and their chances in life. We call on the government to increase its support for this generation of students. With 15 months between the initial foreclosure and the end of this academic year, reducing an equivalent 15-month interest relief on student loans would be seen as an important move and help graduates get a better start in the early stages of life. their careers.

The pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on our students. In some of our universities, requests for hardship funds have increased by over 100%. Due to the pandemic, students also face extraordinary mental health issues and 18% of students do not have access to a computer, laptop or tablet. Further government support is an urgent priority.

For a second year in a row, all of our students will enter a desperately difficult job market. Our universities wish to fully play their role in supporting graduates in their transition to employment or the pursuit of their studies. Government flexibility in the use of apprenticeship tax and funding for small skills, aligned with urgent priorities for higher level skills and flexibility in using other sources of government funding, would make an immediate difference. These measures would also accelerate the positive contribution that universities can make to support national recovery.

Together, we believe these initiatives would ensure that government can fully play its role in ensuring intergenerational equity – and that university students are not forgotten or left behind.

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