Pupils With Lower Grades Could Be Banned From Student Loans Under New Government Plans | TOTUM
Ben HaywardFebruary 23rd
2022

Pupils who fail GCSE English and maths exams could be banned from taking out student loans under new government proposals.

Due to be announced this week, Department for Education (DfE) ministers claim they are trying to weed out ‘low-quality courses’ in order to reduce student numbers and see more young people take on apprenticeships, reports the Independent

The plans, which were first published in The Daily Telegraph and will be put to consultation before any action is taken, will also include new minimum entry requirements for some applicants as well as the introduction of student number controls.

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They also include the suggestion that students who fail to attain two Es at A-level or equivalent, or at least a Grade 4 pass in English and maths GCSE will be barred from taking out a student loan, a DfE spokesperson said, with adding that the move would ensure ‘poor-quality, low-cost courses aren’t incentivised to grow uncontrollably’.

However, experts have warned that the new rules will impact many school leavers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Writing on Twitter, co-founder of education research platform, Teacher Tapp, Laura McInnerney, wrote: “This is devastating and unnecessary.

“Why should you be kept out of a music, or art, or dance, or a drama degree for getting a grade 3 in maths? Why should you be stopped from gaining a maths degree for getting a Grade 3 in English?

“It also takes zero account of circumstances. Not everyone has an easy year when they turn 16. People die, families fall apart, illnesses happen: exams get shafted.

“To hold that against people without money, even when they find other strengths and routes to university, is unjust.”

Education consultant Johnny Rich said that increasing the minimum entry requirements goes against the government’s so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda. 

“Minimum entry requirements are a potential culture war minefield,” Mr Rich said.

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“If we want to level up, to generate social mobility and to meet skills needs, then blanket minimum entry requirements will do nothing more than close doors.”

The plans come as the number of poorer pupils pursuing higher education has increased, with 28% of 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas applying this autumn compared with 18% in 2013.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We need to ensure that we are creating opportunities that will not only open doors but will develop the talent our country needs to prosper now and in the future.

“Higher education is an investment and we need to ensure that graduates are being rewarded for the money, time and effort they put into their studies with an educational experience and jobs that match their skills and help contribute to the economy.”

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