Press release

University funding reforms will "promote social mobility"

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Higher education should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said today in a podcast.

In the podcast, the Deputy Prime Minister discusses the government’s plans to reform higher education funding.

Mr Clegg said the announcement earlier this week was one of the most difficult decisions taken by the Coalition Government.

But he said the changes will allow the coalition government to create an education system which promotes social mobility. Under the current system, children from affluent backgrounds are still seven times more likely to go to university than their counterparts from poorer homes.

Listen to the podcast

The Deputy PM said:

The announcement we made this week about changes to the contributions that graduates make for their university education was one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to take in the coalition government, particularly for those of us who because of changing circumstances - the compromises of coalition government - have not been able to deliver the policies we had before.

But that doesn’t mean that we’re not able to deliver on the biggest ambition of all and that is to create an education system which promotes social mobility rather than entrenches inequality.

It’s just not right that poor children at a very early age don’t get the pre-school support they deserve. It’s just not right that bright but poor children fall behind in the classroom by the age of six, seven or eight and then find it difficult to catch up with less bright but more affluent children later on in school. It’s just not right that children from affluent backgrounds are seven times more likely to go to university than children from poor backgrounds.

And that’s what we’re changing.

So our plans include a £150 million National Scholarship Scheme to cut the cost of university for youngsters from poor backgrounds. We’re going to ensure that universities that choose to charge more for courses have to widen their intake. And under our repayment scheme many graduates - those earning the least - will pay much less than they do right now.

I want us to build a truly open society, where people can rise, regardless of their background; where the doors of all our institutions are flung open to all; and where higher education really is a right for all, not a privilege for the few. That’s our goal.

Under the plans, high-earning graduates will pay more towards their studies while bright students from poorer backgrounds will be given more help through measures such as a new £150 million National Scholarships Programme. The threshold to pay for university costs when earning will also be raised from £15,000 to £21,000 and part-time students will be entitled to loans for the first time.

Read more about the planned reforms [External website]