Maintenance grants are a ‘lifeline’ for Sheffield Hallam students

Louise Haigh MP outside Parliament
Louise Haigh MP outside Parliament

Around 40 per cent of Sheffield Hallam University students are reliant on student grants to fund their studies, figures show.

More than £31 million was given to 10,431 SHU students, who qualified through low parental incomes, in 2014.

Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield Hallam University

This put Hallam students third in the country for reliance on the grants, with Manchester Metropolitan and Nottingham Trent at the top of the list.

The government plans to turn the grant into a loan, which has angered student bodies and opposition MPs.

Sheffield MPs and student leaders are against the changes, branding it a ‘lifeline’ for many who have access to it.

Dapo Adaramewa, Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union President, said: “Many of our students heavily rely on these grants to get through the financial pressures of university.

“To turn them into loans flies in the face of the poorer students who are being saddled with even more debt.”

Every MP in South Yorkshire opposed the maintenance grants changes in a Commons vote last week after an opposition debate on the proposals.

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh said the changes will have a ‘damaging impact’ on Sheffield students.

“Student grants are an absolute lifeline for thousands of students who attend universities in Sheffield – who wouldn’t otherwise think of attending university,” she said.

“The changes will make poorer students think twice about going into higher education. This could have a damaging impact particularly on Sheffield Hallam University where 40 per cent who attend rely on student grants to get to university.

“The path to university is already rigged against students of low and modest means.”

Sheffield Hallam MP, Nick Clegg, also voted against the proposal.

He said: “What discourages young people most about going to university are the up front living costs.

“Maintenance grants are designed to ease that pressure, so to scrap them now is wrong and a blow to social mobility.”

A government spokesman said more people from the poorest backgrounds are now going to university and changes to the loan system are better for taxpayers.

Maintenance grants are designed to encourage students from low-income families to apply for university without being deterred by living costs such as rent, food and energy bills.