Vital student scholarship 'effectively cancelled' in coalition's latest round of cuts
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A vital student scholarship programme is to be reduced by over £100 million in the latest measure of cuts by the coalition Government. The programme, originally launched in response to fears that raised tuition fees would deter poorer students, is due to be reduced from £150 million to £50 million by 2016. The scheme will now be virtually redundant to undergraduates, as from 2015 only postgraduates will be eligible for support. George Osborne made the announcement last week as part of the Government’s Spending Review. The huge reduction in support, described by the National Union of Students as effectively cancelling the programme altogether, comes just weeks after Vince Cable praised the achievements of its first year. It was hoped that the scheme would provide more than 50,000 poorer students up to £1,000 worth of cash bursaries to fund their way through university. However, despite this apparent u-turn, the government insists that the scheme will still be greatly beneficial in supporting postgraduates through higher education. The GSR states “The Government will refocus the National Scholarship Programme to support postgraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds.” Toni Pearce, NUS president, says that by cutting the funding the government has turned its back on disadvantaged students. “Student support is not a prize for getting into university,” he said. “It is a vital lifeline for students that can be the difference between getting a degree or dropping out.” The NUS has calculated that the loss to undergraduate support will total more than £200 million, as higher education institutions matched the funding provided by the government. “My sister was able to benefit from the NSP when she went to university in 2009, but now that avenue is closed to me,” said Sarah Burns, 17. “I am in the same financial straits as she was, but I have to pay triple the fees with absolutely no financial support from the government. It’s really unfair.” The NUS have launched a petition against the decision, asking disgruntled students to write to George Osborne “letting him know how his cuts will hurt”. However, currently standing at only 150 signatures, and considering the lack of success of a 300,000 strong student protest back in 2010, it seems that this particular cut is here to stay.
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