My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations, including those from university administrators and student unions.
In terms of encouraging older students to enter higher education, the mature student's allowance has been an outstanding success. How can a Minister with responsibility for education justify a Treasury-led cut that will bring such hardship and difficulties to thousands of mature students?
Any Minister with responsibility for education must consider all priorities in the context of the huge public expenditure on student support and universities, amounting to £6 billion a year in England alone. It is our view that, given that older students receive the full battery of mandatory award—grants and loan provisions from the access fund—and that many of them initiated a career and built up savings, every chance exists that they will continue to come to university in the numbers that have been expanding so rapidly in recent years. The position of all those already on courses has been safeguarded by my right hon. Friend's proposal.