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The National Union of Students (NUS) has reacted to the news that the Government is considering increasing the interest rates of student loans taken out between 1998 and 2012, labelling the proposal a “final betrayal”.
The Rothschild investment bank proposal, contained in a Government-commissioned report, made the suggestion because the authors found that student loans would be a more attractive prospect to any potential buyer if interest was not capped at a potentially profit-restricting rate.
The report was obtained under a Freedom of Information request by anti-cuts website False Economy, according to a story in The Guardian.
Any move on selling the loans would affect around 3.6m people who took out student loans during that period. The hike proposed in the report would apparently see interest on loans raised from 1.5 per cent to 3.6 per cent.
The report also apparently contains a suggestion of how ministers could persuade graduates to accept the interest rare rise. It says: “We all live in difficult times. You have a deal which is so much better than your younger siblings (they will incur up to £9,000 tuition fees and up to RPI [inflation] + 3 per cent interest rates).”
President of the NUS Liam Burns labelled the proposal “a final betrayal”.
He said: “The Government must immediately rule out this outrageous suggestion. Despite pushing them to establish in law that conditions on student loans could not be altered retrospectively the Government refused and gave weak assurances that they had no plans to do so. Now we see their own advisors are suggesting that very move.
“By raising tuition fees the Government shifted much of the cost of education onto students, and these proposals would hit recent graduates. When are those who benefited from the boom years going to take their share of the burden like David Willetts said they should before he was in Government?
“Students and graduates will be understandably enraged by these proposals and many will see it as the final betrayal by a cabinet ministers who benefited from a free university education.”