Response to Sutton Trust report on student maintenance

21 March 2024

Today (Thursday 21 March), The Sutton Trust published a new report highlighting the impact of high living costs and inadequate financial support for the poorest students, and suggesting reforms to the student maintenance loan system.

In response, Joanna Burton, Head of Policy (Higher Education) at the Russell Group said:

"These new findings paint a very worrying picture for student experience, but unfortunately they are not surprising. Russell Group analysis shows that students receiving the maximum loan will be almost £2,000 worse off than if maintenance loans had kept pace with inflation since 2020/21.

"We continue to call on Government to increase maintenance loans, reintroduce maintenance grants for the most disadvantaged students and review the parental earnings thresholds, to alleviate day-to-day pressures and provide students with the financial backing they need to thrive in their studies and take full advantage of the opportunities that university education offers."



  • In 2024/25, a full-time student living away from home outside London will receive £10,244 per year, leaving them £1,906 short of the £12,130 the loan would be if the Government had raised it in line with inflation since 2020/21.  
  • This shortfall is compounded by the freeze on the parental earnings threshold used to calculate maintenance loans in England, which has been frozen in cash terms since 2008. Students are eligible for the maximum level of maintenance support if their parental earnings are below £25,000. Had this threshold increased with earnings, it would now be closer to £35,000. 
  • Russell Group universities collectively spend tens of millions of pounds each year on financial and non-financial support for students, to assist them with cost-of-living pressures. This provision includes bursaries and hardship funds, food banks and pantries, subsidised meals and travel, and trained money advisors. 

Read more information in the Russell Group briefing on cost-of-living support for students.

Briefing - Cost of Living Support for Students

Policy area

Related case studies

Media Enquiries
Policy Enquiries

Follow us on Twitter