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"Bring back maintenance grants for poor students," says university chief

(Photo credit: Chris Radburn/PA)

TIM BRADSHAW, the head of Russel Group which represents 24 leading universities, said restoring the grant system would make a 'substantial difference' to people who were 'nervous' about student debt.

The maintenance grant allowed students to receive up to £3,387 a year in order to help them meet the cost of living while studying.

However, grants were replaced at the start of the 2016/17 academic year by loans which students woulddn have to start paying back once they earned more than £21,000 a year.

Mr Bradshaw told The Independent that bringing back maintenance grants would also assist in promoting diversity on campuses across the country.

He said: "It could be very targeted, really cost-effective and actually make quite a substantial difference to those from disadvantaged backgrounds who may inherently be very nervous about taking on an additional loan. Actually the grant could work in their favour.

"I think if you give a grant to those students then you might encourage even more to consider applying for university in the first place and think it is actually something they can really aspire to - and that it won't land them in additional debt at the end of the day."

Then-chancellor George Osborne said the changes to the grant system was part of a 'major set of reforms' which would be 'fair to students, fair to taxpayers and vital to secure our long-term economic future'.

But according to Daily Mail, Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust, said the reforms could put many low and middle income students off the idea of going to university.

The Russell Group - an association of 24 research universities in the UK - has been told it needs 'to go further' in improving access for disadvantaged pupils.

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