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Student loans could be denied to pupils who fail GCSE English and maths

25 February 2022

Pupils who fail their maths and English GCSEs could be banned from taking out student loans according to new Government plans.

The Department for Education intends to set minimum entry requirements to ensure students “aren’t being pushed into higher education before they are ready”, and to crackdown on perceived “low quality” degrees. Students who do not achieve a grade 4 – the old grade C in English and Maths GCSE – will be unable to access student loans. Around a third of pupils do not reach the proposed threshold every year.

The move is aimed at lowering the cost to the taxpayer of the increasing numbers of university students who fail to earn enough to pay back their student loans. However, Disabled students who do not thrive in mainstream school settings could suffer from no longer being able to access higher education which is better suited to enable them to engage with different styles of lessons and learning.

DR UK’s Education Policy Adviser, Bethany Bale said: “Disabled students already struggle to access higher education with poor physical accessibility and support funding. But those who do make it to uni often thrive in ways they could not at GCSE and A-level. Mainstream schools are too often not set up to meet the needs of Disabled pupils to enable them to achieve academic goals. Many Disabled children have strong ability in core subjects, but struggle with the lack of flexibility in education and examination systems which are used to determine their success. Using grades as a means to test the suitability of candidates to access funding will create a further unnecessary barrier to levelling up education for Disabled young people.”