English university tuition should be capped at £7,500 yearly, loan repayment extended by 10 years, and the earnings threshold to begin repaying graduate debt lowered to £23,000, a government-commissioned review recommends.

The Augar report also wants maintenance grants reintroduced. In 2016, budgetary cuts meant higher education institutions stopped awarding low-income students subsistence grants.

The report claims the new £7,500 cap—the current maximum being £9,250—should be frozen from 2021-2022 until 2023-24, then adjusted for inflation.

National Union of Students president Shakira Martin told the BBC this policy would remedy “the debt aversion caused by high fees, high living costs and the lack of maintenance grants.”

Loans were previously waived after 30 years: now, graduates will remain indebted for 40 years.

Financial consultant Martin Lewis told Metro the plan was actually “regressive,” likely to “disproportionately help higher-earning graduates.”

Lewis argues lowering the repayment threshold and extending the debt liability would force poorer graduates to “repay more, for far longer, substantially increasing the total cost.”

And since only highest-earning graduates fully repay their loans, these recommendations—if implemented—would disproportionately affect low-income individuals.

Meanwhile, universities stress that any cuts to tuition will create funding gaps damaging the quality of education they provide.

How might university fee reforms affect disadvantaged students?

 

Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.