Nick Clegg visits Bishop Challoner School to urge pupils on to university
PUBLISHED: 22:59 25 February 2014 | UPDATED: 23:04 25 February 2014
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visted London’s deprived East End today to urge schoolkids to strive to get into university.
He arrived at the Bishop Challoner Catholic secondary in the Commercial Road this evening to meet sixthform pupils and their parents to answer questions about university life.
The pupils put him on the spot over tuition fees and student loans at the end of his talk.
Many East End families are in poverty and finding the money to send youngsters to university is often an issue, especially in the light of the Coalition Government having withdrawn student maintenance grants three years ago which were worth £30 a week.
“You must not think that you can’t somehow go to univesrity because it’s not affordable,” Mr Clegg told his young audience.
“The government took a decision two years ago to raise tuition fees. There was a fair amount of controversy over this.
“My party made a commitment to get rid of fees. But we couldn’t deliver on that. There was very little money to go around.
“What really matters now is that you know you can go to university if you want to, regardless of family circumstances or your background.”
He urged the sixthformers who had turned up from several schools across east London to meet him not to let “the myths surrounding the new system” crowd out the facts.
Tower Hamlets, one of Britain’s most deprived areas, has its own student support scheme for further education where the Town Hall gives out grants for up to 400 student applicants each year.
East End schools like Bishop Challoner are now among the country’s top education establishments for A-Level results.
But many families still face the anguish of not being able to afford to send their children on to university to improve their chances in life.