Uni Minister Jo Johnson says NO to my letter asking ‘please be honest & transparent about the parental contribution’


The amount of the living loan that students aged under 25 get when they go to university is dictated by a means test of their PARENTS’ income. 

A reduction in the living loan starts for students from families with incomes of just £25,000/yr and the amount received can be halved for those whose parents earn £60,000. In effect, it assumes parents will make up the gap.

In September I wrote an open letter to Jo Johnson, the Conservative Universities Minister, saying that if the state’s policy is to incorporate a parental contribution into the system (ignoring whether that’s fair for independent adults aged over 18), the bare minimum requirement must be that parents should be loudly told about it, including exactly how much they are expected to give.

I explained not doing so causes rifts between students and parents who don’t make up the gap, as well as budgeting problems. My simple request was that he ask the Student Loans Company to prominently include, in the entitlement letter students are sent, something akin to…

“Students – your loan for living is £x,xxx a year, this is less than the full loan and we expect your parents to make up at least the £x,xxx difference.”

The minister has now responded to my letter. I’m very disappointed. In likely not wanting to rock the boat, it means he simply wants to keep students and parents in the dark.

The thrust of his argument is that student loan calculations are based on parental income – but not because parents are expected to make a particular contribution.

The bewildering suggestion is that students can make up the difference from various sources, such as savings or part-time jobs. Yet these apply to all students regardless of parental income, so the logic is lost on me; under that argument all should get a flat rate.

Of course it’s all politics, but if he’s worried about being dictatorial to parents, just change the phrasing to…

“Students – your loan for living is £x,xxx a year. This is £x,xxx less than the full loan due to a means test of your parents’ income.”

He also says that those from the lowest income backgrounds get the most governmental support, but ignores the fact that those assessed from higher income backgrounds who don’t receive parental support (whatever the reason) will be worse off financially than those even from the lowest income backgrounds – and there is no mechanism for them to force parents to pay up.

Here’s Jo Johnson’s letter in full (ignore the date of it, we only received it fairly recently).

Click on the images above to see a clearer version.

Do let me know your views below…