A big red sofa is easing the concerns of hundreds of students at London schools and colleges this week as students are encouraged find out more about student finance.
During National Student Finance Week (14-18 November) Middlesex University’s expert advisors are on hand to sit down with students and give them advice on funding a place at university, on a red sofa. The colourful couch has been on tour at colleges including Woodhouse College, Haringey Sixth Form Centre and Alexandra Park School.
Despite perceptions to the contrary, students do not start paying back their loan until they are earning £21,000 – compared to £15,000 under the old regime. Average graduate repayments will be less than they are now – for example someone earning £25,000 would only repay £30 a month from their salary.
Cherece John, a Woodhouse College student from Tottenham, said: “Sitting on the red sofa has helped me understand more about university finance - I thought you would have to pay upfront, but I now realise the terms aren’t as bad as I feared.”
Another Wooodhouse College student, Sam Evans, who intends to study mechanical engineering added: “The finance hasn’t concerned me too much, but I want to take a gap year to save up a bit of money before I go to uni. I’m thankful that you don’t have to pay anything upfront, I might have been put off if that was the case.”
Pupils at the local colleges have also taken part in talks and workshops designed to give them a full understanding of the new fees system.
Middlesex University Director of Student Marketing and Recruitment, Lucy Everest said: “Our red sofa tour is designed to be an engaging way to offer advice to students from across London. We want to reassure hundreds of students that there is nothing to pay upfront and actually the monthly repayments will be far lower than before.
“We have also given details of the financial support Middlesex University is offering, something which will help many students choosing to study here. Because of a range of help we're putting in place for less well off students, many wont have to pay a full fee.”
Martin Lewis, the man behind MoneySavingExpert.com and head of the Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information said: “We have a near national crisis with the perception of student loan 2012 debt in England. Prospective students are making their decision based on headline fee levels rather than how much it’s actually likely to cost them. Many students, especially from lower income families are unnecessarily being put off. We need ensure they understand how it really works so they can make an informed decision.”