Graduates will benefit from a delay in the repayment of their student loans, as earnings threshold increases to £25,000.
At the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Theresa May announced her decision to increase the tuition fee repayment threshold, along with plans to freeze tuition fee levels, and launch a review of student funding.
Tuition fee repayment earnings threshold to rise to £25,000 https://t.co/s6QEkycr5m | The Guardian— HE News (@HEontap) October 2, 2017
Under the new system, graduates will start repaying their student loan once their income reaches £25,000, instead of the previous threshold of £21,000.
Tuition fees will also be fixed at £9,250 a year; a decision that will prevent previous plans to raise them to £9,500 next year.
At the conference, May argued the changes would be beneficial. She said: ‘we are pledging to help students with an immediate freeze in maximum fee levels and by increasing the amount graduates can earn before they start paying their fees back.’
Good to see a tuition fee freeze & that the income threshold at which graduates pay back student loans is to be raised from £21k to £25k pic.twitter.com/9LOVB3uldn— Derek Thomas (@DerekThomasUK) October 2, 2017
However, the policies have been heavily criticised as limited in their attempts to reduce the overall burden of debt on graduates.
Older graduates will benefit least by the increase in the fee repayment threshold, which is likely only to apply to those who took out loans after they were raised in 2012.
This will mean that, under new plans, those who took out loans before this time will be forced to repay their debt of around £3,000 at a similar rate to those who took loans of £9,000.
Raising the Uni tuition fee repayment threshold doesnt help students who have to pay it back, it just allows more time to add on £ interest!— annie jakeman 🤷🏼♀ (@anniejakeman) October 2, 2017
The announcements were seen by some as little more than a poor attempt to win over young people, who voted largely against the Conservatives in the last election.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, called the move ‘a desperate attempt by the Tories to kick the issue into the long grass.’
There was also criticism within the Conservative party, as Michael Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister, argued it was impossible to ‘outbid’ Labour in its promises to younger voters, after Jeremy Corbyn’s recent pledge to scrap tuition fees entirely.
In collaboration with UBTV, Epigram asked Bristol students what they thought of the changes:
Featured image: Flickr / GloomyCorp