As Twitter and the New Statesman noticed yesterday, Danny Alexander has confirmed the government’s intention to privatise the student loan book.
There are so many things wrong with this that I can’t quite begin to articulate them, but let’s settle for the fact that there are some suggestions in a leaked memo that the interest on existing loans could be increased retrospectively.
Given all the problems and issues we’re facing with getting the most talented students from any background into higher education, the privatisation of the loan book would be one further discouragement from pursuing further study from those without independent financial resources. It would be one further step towards the privatisation and marketisation that is already creeping into the university sector, where (to my mind) it has no place. And it won’t ultimately do anything towards improving the country’s financial situation right now.
Tim Whitmarsh has set up a petition calling on the government not to privatise student loans. Please take a minute to sign. If this goes through, there will be serious consequences for all UK universities, academics and students.