£3 billion lent to students - drop in University places uptake
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Paul Butler MLA speaking after it was revealed that student loans had passed the £3 billion mark in the last financial year has said that the drop in the number of students applying for universities places in the North was a matter of huge concern.
Mr Butler said:
"There have been concerns for some time about the financial hardship students are facing. Figures just released its has been reveal the total lent to all students during the financial year 2006/07 for English, Welsh, Scottish and universities in the North by The Student Loans Company was £3.4 billion. That was increase of nearly half a billion pounds on the previous year.
"It also is worrying that there has been a decrease of 4.8% in admissions applications from the North.
"While student loans have been presented by this British Labour Government as an 'effective' way of financing education we must accept that an increasing number of students are now facing huge levels of debt not just through student loans but also through bank overdrafts, credit cards, personal loans and family loans. We must also recognise that the drop in the number of applications to university and the high numbers of students dropping out from their studies is connected to debt and the fear of debt.
"There is a cost in terms of investing in our future; in our economy and society, that has never been fully recognised in any analysis of financial support for our students. Perhaps it is now time to begin a proper analysis of how much it costs us as a society not to put in place proper financial support for our students?" ENDS