Cornwall reacts to government plans to scrap student loans for GCSE failures

Radical plans to consider minimum grades requirements for student loans have been described as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘unfair’ by residents of Cornwall.

Under the proposals, students who do not achieve at least a Grade 4 grade (a C in the previous grading system) in GCSE maths and English or at least two Es at A level will no longer be able to access student loans s they are applying to college.

Cornwall residents called the potential changes unfair, with one saying ‘the division of education based on these two subjects is wrong’.

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Many more shared their own personal successes – many of which failed to meet minimum grade requirements before graduating.

In February, the government unveiled its response to the Augar review of higher education (HE) funding with a new consultation that will determine whether these students should have access to student loans.

The government said 4,800 students without GCSEs in maths and English entered higher education last year, excluding mature students who would be exempt from the change.

The proposals also seek to change student loan repayments so that they start at a lower salary threshold of £25,000 from 2023/24, and students will repay loans over 40 years instead of 30.

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The government’s Department for Education said the new system would make it “fairer” for students and taxpayers.

He said: “Under the current system, more people than ever are going to college, but too often students go into debt for shoddy courses that don’t lead to well-paying graduate jobs.

“That means some students never even start repaying their student loans. And currently, only a quarter of students who started full-time undergraduate studies in 2020-21 are expected to repay their loans in full.”

The total value of outstanding loans at the end of March 2021 reached £161 billion and is expected to reach half a trillion pounds by 2043.

Here’s what CornwallLive readers had to say when we asked them what they thought of the proposed changes:

Robbi Skaera called it “totally fair” saying that “most student loans given to people who have bad grades in school go unpaid”.

He continued: “It’s not about excluding the disadvantaged from higher education – it’s about preventing universities from making the poor think they’re getting a degree, when it’s also unnecessary than their GCSEs.”

Phil Williams said: “Have you seen a student loan application? You need a degree in math and English to be able to complete one.”

Jobi Hovis Hold called the decision “absolutely” fair saying that if people can’t pass maths and English, “there’s a good chance they won’t pass their (university) course”.

Click here if you can’t see the poll

Chris Keene added: “I would say [it is fair] because you have to at least prove that you can do basic English and math for most degrees. If you can’t do it at GCSE level, you’re going to find a degree really difficult.”

But many called it ‘unfair’, with one saying the changes would ‘throw less advantaged children to the scrap heap’.

Julia Schofield said: “I know someone who failed in English but then got top A levels in maths, physics and further maths. It seems a little unfair to me to stop student loans for students who fail in English or math.”

Fran Hart added: ‘So if you’re dyslexic or struggle with math but are fantastic at arts and careers, don’t you deserve to further your education?

“Too much emphasis on paper skills, using your head to work with your hands counts as important. We are all small cogs in a big social machine,” said Philip Leaver.

Jenny Scrimshaw said: “I think it’s a terrible idea. You never know what someone’s situation is or why they haven’t been successful”

MJ added: “Absolutely not. They can help in some subjects studied, but are by no means necessary in all. The division of education based on these two subjects is wrong.”

Mandie Page said: “It’s so wrong and it will end up making college education exclusive. What about courses that don’t require a C in math or English? Some earn one but don’t the other. Does that mean those who don’t need a C to get those grades get scrapped?”

Others have shared their career successes despite failing to pass GCSEs in maths and English.

Students who fail GCSE maths or English may not qualify for university loans

Hilary Mallela said: “I failed in maths. I got an award as the best student in my year. Physio. I became director of Physio at the NHS and then ran my own business for 14 years .”

Lucy Davey said: “I don’t have my maths, that didn’t stop me from gaining photography qualifications and launching a career in counseling as an adult with lots of student loans.”

Claire Treleaven also failed in math: “I succeeded in work and in higher education. I had loans (non-student and students). I managed to pay rent and other bills. I can even find money when it comes. in what needs to go out and what stays. All on an F grade in math! Ridiculous, I call it.

“I failed maths at GCSE, went to retake it when the pandemic hit and didn’t get the grade I was expected to get! I then had to sit an entrance exam to get into the college, which I passed,” said Lorna Lowery.

“Currently in second year and going well! Basing someone’s intelligence and worth on a GSCE result is ridiculous!”

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