Student loans are deeply unfair

National Union of Students demonstration against loans, London, 2002

In your piece about the Open University (Jobs put at risk as Open University seeks £100m in savings, 14 June) you mention the impact of the introduction of tuition fees. In fact, OU students have always paid tuition fees and these increased, in line with inflation, for over 40 years.

The hammer blow came when the government forced the OU to triple fees in line with conventional universities. The sweetener offered in return was access to student loans. However, this did not work out because many did not qualify for these loans due to previous experience of higher education or a low course workload. Many who would have qualified were strongly averse to student debt. Student numbers dropped by a third almost overnight.

The vice chancellor is looking for salvation in the cloud. He would perhaps be better employed praying for a Jeremy Corbyn victory. Corbyn is pledged to abolishing tuition fees and that must include part-time students, mustn’t it?
Alan Woodley

The student loan system has always been deeply flawed. Not only is the basis economically unsound, but the cost of this graduate tax falls heavily on women because of the higher proportion of female to male undergraduates.

In addition, as you have recently shown (Report, 14 June), women face a pay gap just one year after graduating, and will, over a working lifetime, on average earn £300,000 less.

High-earning male graduates repay the loan quickly with minimum interest, while women graduates, struggling to balance work with family responsibilities, are adversely affected because interest accrues during career breaks. This disadvantage, in turn, impacts on the next generation.
Dr Mark Ellis


Your article (Young people have spoken: will their voice be heard over university fees and grants?, 13 June) includes a reminder from David Green that student loans are now increasing at a rate of around 6% a year, which over the 25 years a loan is paid back will result in a substantial increase in the cost of the loan, well in excess of the rate of inflation.

When student fees were first introduced the basis was that increases would be in line with inflation. The rules have changed and this additional burden is the price students will have to pay for the privatisation of student loans by the Conservative government. Another reminder that privatisation and Tory government do not work in the interests of the many.
Peter Kayes