The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

end of an era

back in a previous incarnation i helped to organise student marriages. not designed to be death do us part, these unions of convenience took advantage of a loophole in the student allowances legislation, to avoid parental means testing for the under 25. if you were married your spouse's means were tested instead, and if you were both students you were basically bound to qualify for an allowance.

and i see that the Govt is now moving to end this - those students who are under 25 and married will now be tested on parental income, just like their single friends.

while this does end the discrimination on the basis of sexuality inherent in the old marriage scheme, it is kind of sad to see it go. (i did wonder how it would operate under the Civil Unions legislation) of course i wouldn't be sad at all if it was going because they were bringing in a universal student allowance like they ought to...

it just shows again how ridiculous the 25 age limit is - how many students, or young people in general, are really still reliant on their parents at that age? and how many parents want to still support their kids once they are over 20?? i was pretty late moving out of home, but even i was out of the fold by 22 and supporting myself (without an allowance).

i think of all those couples i brought together - i was witness at the wedding of one friend (mr red), whose wife had a long term relationship with another of our friends, then cheated on him with the wife of a third friend. of course they're all divorced now. que sera sera.


Cal said...

This kind of thing really really annoys me. I had to leave home at 18 to go to uni as my parents didn't live anywhere near one. My parents were about $500 over the threshold that would have given me any student allowance - so I got no student allowance and I had no financial support from my parents. I have a solid student loan - some of which accumulated interest at the rate of 9% while I was still studying. What other sector of society is means-tested on their parents incomes when they're 24??

span said...

yep I hear ya Cal - i could only get an allowance for 6 months when my Ma was made redundant, and then it was only half an allowance. i was also v lucky to avoid a loan because my dead grandfather paid my fees. seems pretty unfair that i got a free education because he made some wise investments on my behalf two decades ago...

my partner however worked his arse off to get through with the smallest loan possible. he would work all the hours he could get over summer and in the first half of the semester, and then go down to two and a half days a week in the second half so he could study more. this was working ok until a flatmate stole the money he had saved up to survive the second half and everything went to hell in a hand basket. he had to give up in the end and is now finishing off his BA by drip-feed whilst working full time. luckily he has a sympathetic employer.

i get the impression that leading Labour lights like Maharey are actually ideologically opposed to a universal student allowance, despite the obvious unfairness of the current system (you are totally right about 24yo's being tested on their parent's income. i would go a step further and ask which other group in society do we require to go into debt for their basic living costs if they can't meet them themselves??!).