Student Loans

In summer 2021, 3DC apprentices carried out extensive research, investigation and preparatory work for the upcoming Generation on Trial on student loans.

Last Updated: 7th December 2021

3DC’s Generation on Trial (GoT) project works with young people to identify who they believe is responsible for changing the world for the worse, and creating challenges for the next generation.  These prominent figures are then given a mock trial that both holds them to account and helps young people to understand how their inheritance may have been undermined.

Apprentices first looked at the advantages enjoyed by Clive’s age group – in this case, free university complemented with grants that even underwrote the beer consumption of the politicians who would later change the rules. Our apprentices learned how the 1997 Dearing Report recommended the introduction of tuition fees supported by loans. Means-tested tuition fees were introduced in the UK by Tony Blair’s government in 1998, replacing maintenance grants with student loans. It is one of the few debts that cannot be avoided by bankruptcy.

In 2010, when part of the coalition government with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg MP famously broke his party’s electoral promise by voting to increase tuition fees – an act for which he later apologised. 3DC apprentices are considering whether to challenge Clegg to defend his actions in the up-coming mock trial.

The initial research themes to be further developed include:

– the economic, ideological and moral arguments for and against tuition fees and student loans. 

– the economic impact of loans on students.

– who profits (including current politicians, executives and heads of educational institutions). 

– the extent to which loans are a disincentive for young people to go to university as well as to go into lower-paying public service jobs after university.

– the history and implementation of student loans in other countries, notably the US.

Students now entering the higher education system in the UK all too often take it as given that they will essentially leave university with a mortgage but no house. The upcoming mock trial will empower the next generation to re-consider this notion as many of the people in power today who have recently significantly raised tuition fees benefitted from free higher education.  

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