Students who have taken out tuition fee loans to cover the cost of university studies will now be able to earn more before having to begin repaying them.
This latest decision will affect all English and Welsh students who have taken out loans for university fees since the yearly cost of higher education rose to £9,000 a year, in September 2012.
Initially pledged by Theresa May in October, the move comes after a governmental review into tuition fees found that English students were faced with “one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world”.
Students will now begin to pay back their loans when they earn £25,000 a year rather than the previous £21,000 threshold, a 19% increase which will be accommodated by increased governmental expenditure.
The Department of Education estimates that around 600,000 students will be positively affected by these latest measures in the next year alone, and the change will see them save up to £360 a year which has been described by the NUS as a “welcome relief”.
This change is expected to benefit middle-earning graduates most in the long run, saving them up to £15,700 in loan repayments over the course of their lifetimes. Higher and lower-earning graduates will be less affected, but the average saving for graduates will still be around £10,000.
The move has been well received as the number of people attending university, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, continues to rise.
The NUS vice-president for higher education, Amatey Doku, spoke of his support for the measures, stating: “This change will be a welcome relief for many of the lowest-earning graduates”. However, he voiced concerns that these changes still did little to help address the high living costs that significantly disadvantage lower income families.