Student Loan Interest Rates Debate

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Department: Department for Education
Wednesday 27th March 2024

(1 month, 4 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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I come back to my earlier answer: we have a system in which it is very clear that above a certain threshold, 9% of income goes to repaying part or all of a graduate’s debt. The overall package, obviously, in terms of affordability of mortgages and housing, is dependent on many issues, of which graduate debt is one.

Lord Johnson of Marylebone Portrait Lord Johnson of Marylebone (Con)
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My Lords, the Government’s excellent recent reforms to the student loan book have significantly improved its affordability to the taxpayer, with less than a third now expected to be written off. Given this, and given the funding crunch facing universities—which will be worsened if the Government take a hatchet to the graduate route, by the way—does my noble friend the Minister agree with me that it is time to allow universities to increase fees in line with inflation for those that can demonstrate they are delivering great outcomes for students, as assessed by the teaching excellence framework?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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As my noble friend touched on, the Government are trying to balance, or triangulate, a number of things. One is affordability for students, hence the freeze we have had for seven years on fees. Another is addressing poor-quality provision—at the other end of the issue from the one my noble friend raises—through the new Office for Students regime. In relation to motivation, reward and recognition for the highest-performing institutions, a review of allowing indexation of fees based on the TEF is not under consideration currently, but I will say that having a high-quality teaching framework does allow for strong recruitment and research income.