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University Alliance calls for urgent public information campaign about a University Graduate Contribution Scheme

Following the Commons vote yesterday to increase graduate contributions to universities Libby Aston, Director of University Alliance, said

“There is an urgent need for the government and universities to undertake a major public information campaign to address the serious misconceptions about what this decision will mean for students, parents and graduates. We believe these proposals would be better described as a University Graduate Contribution System.

“Firstly and most importantly, students will not pay anything upfront for studying at university. Upfront funding will be provided directly by the state – it is graduates who will be asked to make a contribution, not students and not parents.

“Secondly, this will work like a tax on income that graduates will pay on earnings over £21,000 and for a limited period. It is not like a credit card debt or a mortgage-style debt and will not prevent anyone from getting a mortgage in the future. Contributions will relate to earnings to ensure that repayments are affordable and to ensure that low earners contribute less than high earners.

“Thirdly, low earners will be protected. Those who don’t benefit financially, will never pay anything back. Safeguards for low earners include a minimum earnings threshold (only graduates earning over £21,000 will make any contribution), interest rate protection and a write-off after 30 years. It is the Government that carries all of the risk, not the individual.

“Fourthly, there should be no disadvantage to students from low income families because students and parents have nothing to pay before they enrol, or while they are studying. Furthermore, students from low income families will be eligible for additional support for living costs in the form of increased grants, scholarships and maintenance loans.

“High earning graduates will now be making a significant contribution towards the cost of their degree.  Given the shared benefit of higher education to the individual and to society, we should also ensure there is an appropriate level of direct public investment.

“We must identify the correct balance of contribution between the individual and the state in the forthcoming White Paper on Higher Education. This underlying principle will have significant consequences for the future of our world-class public higher education system and must not be submerged by the immediate crisis in the public finances.”

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About the Alliance:

University Alliance represents 23 major, business-focussed universities at the heart of the sector delivering world-leading research with impact.Alliance universities educate over 26% of all UK students and achieve some of the highest graduate-level employment rates. Alliance universities offer a research- informed, academic learning environment and a culture of innovation and enterprise, equipping graduates who will help deliver growth to the UK economy. Our universities maintain a revolving door with business to help ensure graduate employers get innovative and thoughtful, professionally accredited graduates with the right skills to help grow their businesses.

Alliance universities:

Aberystwyth University, Bournemouth University, University of Bradford, De Montfort University, University of Glamorgan, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Hertfordshire, University of Huddersfield, University of Lincoln, Liverpool John Moores University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, Nottingham Trent University, Open University, Oxford Brookes University, University of Plymouth, University of Portsmouth, University of Salford, Sheffield Hallam University, Teesside University, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Wales, Newport, University of the West of England.

For further information, please contact Sam Jones at the University Alliance office on 07767 673 982 or email sjones@unialliance.ac.uk.

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