Student grants and loans are to be frozen, while tuition fees will rise, under new Government plans.
Students starting undergraduate courses in the 2010-2011 academic year will only be eligible for the same level of maintenance loans, which cover housing and living costs, as is available in the 2009-2010 year – the first freeze since the system was introduced.
Loans for courses will increase by 2.04 per cent to total £3,290 to cover the rise in tuition fees
Grants to cover living expenses of students whose family's income totals less than £25,000 or less has also been frozen, remaining at £2,906.
Students who have a household income of £34,000 or more will be obliged to fund most of the cost of their studies through loans, as opposed to grants, meaning the combined amount of debt accrued by students is likely to go up again.
The announcement has been met with mixed reaction.
The Russell Group, which is an association of 20 leading universities said: "Today's announcement by BIS (The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills) demonstrates the difficult decisions that have to be made during a recession but it remains vital that income from fees keeps pace with inflation.
"The introduction of fees has managed to halt a long term decline in funding per student but funding for higher education in Britain is still significantly lower than in most other OECD countries.
"The system of student support in England remains one of the most generous - and expensive - in the world."
However, the move was criticised by the National Union of Students, which said: "Students are already racking up thousands of pounds of debt, and in a recession every penny counts. It appears that the inflation rate is being applied where it suits universities, but not where it will improve student support. "In the context of the current recession, these real terms cuts in student support will be felt in students' pockets."
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