I wish the term ‘poor’ would stop defining me as a student.

This morning the government announced the scrapping of maintenance grants in favour of loans. While another policy is aimed at students, it seems the poorest of us are those who will suffer most.

Since a young age, the importance of intellect and education was instilled in me. It has become second nature to me to do well. So much so, at 11 I was accepted in to a grammar school after passing the entrance examination. I was one of many who achieved the highest GCSE’s and A-Level qualifications and in my final year, I was given a specialist award for endeavour. Due to this, I was awarded a scholarship from Glasgow university to cover costs of books and any other equipment I may need.

I managed all this whilst being raised in a council house with little income. My mum would budget heavily, saving for months to buy the expensive grammar school uniform. Scrimping back on her own food in order to buy me stationary and books. And giving my sister and I the majority of the food at meal times so that we could think and learn to the best of our ability. We owned no technology until secondary school and it was then that my sister and I used our own savings to buy laptops and mobile phones. My educational achievements are due to the unending sacrifices my mum made in order for us to never find out how poor we truly were. We were raised heavily on morals and imagination, and both have served me well.

I have earned my place at university through determination and pure grit. I have much a right to be there as those whose parents can afford the various expenses. I have achieved the grades and continue to be a ‘high flyer’. Yet the stereotype of ‘being poor’ and those that come with it, often become a hindrance. Especially for those starting university in the coming years.

I (and those like me) are crippling in debt.


When I applied to university, I decided to ignore the debt I would be placing on myself, because I knew that university was my only option. The option of the maintenance grant gave me hope that with the mounting university fees, there was still some equity in the system. And I would be placed in the same situation as the rest of my peers – only having to pay back my borrowed loan and university fee. But with today’s change the smear of equity that I had held on to, has vanished.

Maintenance grants were introduced in order to help those who needed it most. It gave them no extra debt compared to the average student. We were not segregated based on income and still able to pursue the opportunities that university brings. However, with the ever increasing university fees and extra loans students need to take out, poorer students are falling further and further down the pecking order and becoming stuck in the endless poverty cycle.

Our government is continuously failing us.

Students are left to face a life of extensive debt before even having the opportunity to live. With the cost of living rising, we face a life of living under our parents roofs struggling to make ends meet, and picking up the pieces of a broken economy.

As a student, I am concerned about the governments policies and the effects on not just the poorest students, but the ‘millennials’ of our society. I firmly believe that university is fast becoming an institution reserved for the elite. The castle like structures are pushing out those deemed ‘unworthy’. Like 17th century servants, the poor are being pushed outside, only to view such a luxury from behind the locked gates.

 

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5 thoughts on “I wish the term ‘poor’ would stop defining me as a student.

  1. We have the same sort of problems in the US — our education system is a total mess and college is all but unaffordable except to the richest of families. Many of my friends took out extensive loans to pay for their education and all of them are learning to manage their debt as they graduate and have to begin making payments. I was lucky enough that I received grants that covered *most* of my expenses, but even so, it truly disappoints me that higher education is seen as a money-maker.

    Thanks for sharing! I’m sorry to hear things are similar in Britain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Considering it is students that are the driving force for future generations you would think that they would give us education at an affordable rate. I once saw a quote that said ‘What if the cure for cancer was locked in the mind of someone who couldn’t afford education?’It is a thought provoking question because by highering fees and forcing poor students to put themselves in to debt we are denying a whole part of a generation the opportunity to achieve.

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      1. So true — and that’s a powerful question! Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the governments agree with us, but it does seem incredibly unfair how business-like the education systems have become. 😦

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  2. Education is a large stepping stone to self-improvement and these policies that bias against the poor only condemn them and their families to a long list of unpayable loans and debts…

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    1. I agree, by cutting the funding to help the poor they are jeopardising a whole generation of students to lives where they worry about debt instead officiating on education.

      Liked by 1 person

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