Lord Browne’s Recommendations May Disproportionately Strike the BME Communities within Britain

12 Oct 2010

The Muslim Council of Britain today voiced apprehension at the recommendations laid out by Lord Browne in his review of Higher Education and Student Funding. Of particular concern is the removal of a cap on fees, thus allowing universities to charge their students unreservedly. The measures may disproportionately strike the BME communities within Britain, of which the Muslim community is a significant part, due to the higher levels of low income families within that section of society.

Commenting on the recommendations, Farooq Murad, the secretary general of the MCB, said: `Despite many promises of protecting the poorest the proposed introduction of a ‘variable’ fee system will widen the gap between the richer and the poorer students, resulting in a sharp inequality where low-income students will increasingly cluster around the cheaper universities or indeed be compelled to think twice before enrolling for higher education at all. This can effectively create a dangerous form of class segregation within society – one that Britain has fought long and hard to overcome.’

He further said: `Of additional concern in the report is the proposal to increase interest rates on loans to beyond inflation levels, thereby rendering them profitable rather than in correlation to the standard inflation rate and cash value. This may potentially harm the prospects of Muslim students who cannot engage in interest based loans and financial transactions due to the tenets of their faith and may also not be able to fund their education privately. As significant sections of the Muslim community are among the most deprived in Britain and therefore projected to be disproportionately impacted by these proposed changes, it is imperative that the government take these factors into consideration. The alternative may be a society further segregated and a section of the community further alienated.

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Notes to Editors:

The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with around 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.

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