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New taskforce to fight student finance confusion

Published: 17th June 2011 08:15

A task force is being established to help ensure students understand the true cost of their education after the 2012 English student finance changes.

In 2012, universities will be allowed to charge tuition fees to full time students of £9,000 - nearly three times the current level.  Repayment terms are also being revised, with the earnings threshold for repayments to kickstart being raised from the current £15,000 to £21,000.

Student financeThe Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information's primary aim is to co-ordinate, advocate and champion best of breed communication in the online, app, print, and broadcast spaces - allowing all interested groups (eg, schools, colleges, parents, teachers, universities) to help students understand the changes. It is made up of the National Union of Students (NUS), the National Association of Student Money Advisors, UCAS and the higher education bodies Universities UK and GuildHE, and is supported by many others.

The initiative, launched on Friday 17th June, is headed by Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com and Wes Streeting, NUS President 2008-10.  Universities Minister David Willetts has committed to full co-operation to ensure swift access and support upon request.

Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com's creator, who will head the Taskforce, said: "For 20 years we've educated our youth into debt when they go to university, but never about debt. For that we should hang our heads in shame.

"With the huge 2012 changes coming, we must ensure students understand the true cost of their education, so they can decide whether it's worth it.

"While I'm no fan of the changes, even more damage has been done by the crossfire of political spittle that's left many future students and their parents confused and scared - often for the wrong reasons.

"These changes are now happening, so we must explain the real impact on the pounds in students' pockets. I hope this initiative will spread unbiased, best-of-breed apps, web, speakers, video, print, ambassadors and more."

Wes Streeting, Helena Kennedy Foundation chief executive & NUS president 2008-10, will be deputy head:
"After the heated political debate about tuition fees, I believe it is vital that potential students and their families can make informed choices about going to university based on the facts about the new system. That's why I'm prepared to play my part, as a longstanding campaigner against tuition fees, to ensure that we dispel any lingering misunderstanding about tuition fees and student finance.

"If potential students are deterred by higher fees, the Government will need to rethink its policy. But the tragedy of students, particularly from poorer backgrounds, being deterred because of myths and misconceptions is one that can be easily avoided if we all play our part."

Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Universities Minister, says: "It is vital that people understand how the new system will work from 2012. This independent group has the expertise and reach to communicate to a huge number of prospective students, families and teachers, as well as to universities. I strongly back this new initiative. The group will be well resourced by the sector and we will be listening to what it says.

"Under the new system no new student will be asked to pay up front for their tuition. There will be more financial support for students from low-income households. Graduates will not be asked to repay their loans until they are in well paid jobs. I thank all those who are coming together from a wide range of organisations to help ensure the public have the facts."

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