YUSU has joined 16 other students’ unions in calling for a £2700 tuition fee discount to be paid as a grant to all UK students due to disruption caused by the pandemic.
The unions, all representing Russell Group universities, have called on the Government to fund the grant by raising interest rates on tuition fee loans from 3 to 6.2 percent.
In the letter, they described the plan as “inexpensive and realistic,” while also saying that “in an ideal world, education would be free”.
The SUs say that research from London Economics shows that the cost would be mainly paid by high-earning graduates, since loans are written off after 30 years.
They claim that the proposal would mean that an average male graduate would pay £6500 more to repay the tuition fee loan over their lifetime, and that the highest-earning graduates could pay up to £29800 more.
However, they say that a female graduate on an average salary could pay the same amount in loan repayments because their average lifetime earnings are lower.
Beth Eyre, President of the University of Sheffield Students’ Union, said on Twitter that the unions had commissioned the research “because we want fees compensation for this year, without harming HEIs (Higher Education Institutions).
“It’s been #ForgottenStudents at every single turn since March 2020 and it’s not good enough”.
In a statement, a Department for Education spokesperson responded saying that “universities have a strong track record in delivering excellent blended tuition, and we have been clear from the start of the pandemic that the quality and quantity should not drop.
“The Office for Students will be monitoring to ensure this is the case, and universities should be open about what students can expect.”