Nick Clegg last week trumpeted the advancement of social mobility as the new test of fairness. As poorer students face the abolition of educational maintenance allowances, the outreach work of AimHigher – a programme aimed at helping people into higher education – is scrapped and David Cameron and Nick Clegg give the Commons five days to treble student debt. These are tests that the government’s reforms will fail.
Their proposals to shift the entire cost of a university education on to graduates risk setting back social mobility in Britain for a generation. Sir Peter Lampl from the Sutton Trust, who supported the introduction of a graduate contribution in 2003, has expressed his concern that “fees on this scale will deter many students from lower and middle-income homes from higher education in general, and from the prestigious universities charging the highest fees in particular”.
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