The government plans to consult on the higher education system as part of the response to the Augar Review.
Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chair of the Sutton Trust and chair of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:
“University is the surest route to social mobility for those from poorer homes. It is crucial that young people with the potential to benefit are able to access higher education wherever they are in the country and whatever their background.
“The Lifelong Loan Entitlement has the potential to boost social mobility, with people being able to gain qualifications at various stages of their lives. We know that those from lower income homes will especially benefit from more flexibility to dip in and out of education at various points.
“However, today’s announcement represents a missed opportunity to implement some of the key recommendations from the Augar Review.
“The Augar Report supported the Trust’s call for the re-introduction of maintenance grants for the poorest students who, under the current system, graduate with more debt than their wealthier peers. While today’s proposal for new scholarships is welcome, re-instating crucial maintenance support should be the priority for any changes to the student finance system.
“As we recover from the pandemic, we should be doing all we can make sure that young people have access to high-quality routes which will lead to the jobs they want. Minimum entry requirements to access student finance will inevitably impact poorer students the most, as they are less likely to do well at school. The emphasis should instead be on significantly increasing the number of high-quality alternatives to university, especially apprenticeships, and ensuring that all young people have the guidance and support needed to make an informed choice about their next steps.”