Judicial review proceedings have been issued against the government over its controversial plans to scrap maintenance grants for students.

The announcement marks the latest stage of action by the National Union of Students (NUS) following the chancellor's revelation during the 2015 Summer Budget that he was to abolish grants.

Last month the NUS sent a pre-action letter to Sajid Javid, the secretary of state for Business, Innovation, and Skills, asking him to consider the equality implications of his plans before further steps are taken to change the law.

The minister is under a legal duty to assess the equality impact of their planned changes, under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.

Javid has, however, failed to provide detail of assessments undertaken so far, undertake a lawful equality assessment, or provide assurances he will reconsider the plans in the light of the analysis, according to the union.

The NUS has therefore issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court. The union is being represented by Salima Budhani and John Halford of Bindmans and Charlotte Kilroy of Doughty Street Chambers.

The organisation believes that if the plans go ahead, access to higher education will be irrevocably compromised, as the abolition of grants, along with other welfare cuts, will mean students from low socio-economic backgrounds will be hit the hardest.

The NUS believes black and ethnic minority students are likely to be the most affected.

The union has argued that converting grants to loans will mean the poorest students will graduate from university with the highest debt, which will increase by £12,500 to a total of £53,000.

Megan Dunn, the NUS's national president, explained that she was extremely disappointed their concerns about access to education had not been taken seriously by the government and that had led them with no choice but to issue judicial review proceedings.

'The government needs to sit up and start listening to what the students of this country are telling them - that this will damage our education system and the potential of future generations,' she said.

Last month, thousands of students across the country lobbied their MPs as part of our #CutTheCosts campaign to show we will not let the government scrap our grants without a fight.'

John van der Luit-Drummond is deputy editor for Solicitors Journal
john.vanderluit@solicitorsjournal.co.uk | @JvdLD


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