Friday news roundup June 28, 2019
Private school pupil numbers fall amid rising private school fees. According to official figures, private school pupil numbers have fallen to a five year low: at a time of growth for the overall pupil population, the numbers have fallen to 580,955 privately educated pupils. Data by the Department for Education has revealed that this is the second year in a row that the number of students at independent schools has dropped whilst school fees have increased. Last year was the highest year-on-year rise since 2014—it was an average of 3.7%. Mike Buchanan, Executive Director of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference commented: “… [T]he economic climate is much more difficult for everyone, and that includes fee paying parents and those who may wish to buy private education from nursery through to secondary school. Typically parents bend over backwards to keep their children in great schools—but in the end some can't afford to do so.”
Car market in Russia will be supported by the government amid declining consumer income. As of July 1, the Russian government will launch a 19 billion ruble ($301 billion) support program for the Russian car market given declining consumer confidence. According to most recent figures for the month of May, car sales in the country declined by 7%. Some of the largest carmakers, including AvtoVaz, Renault, GAZ, Sollers, Hyundai, and Kamaz together with some dealers associations requested new support mechanisms. As a result, the state will allocate 19 million rubbles to support car leases and loans and its “First Car, Family Car” program which provides people with a discount on the cost of a purchased car. Some of the budget will also be allocated for discounts when leasing commercial vehicles. According to The Ministry of Industry and Trade these plans will increase sales by an additional 75,000 vehicles in 2019.
Almost half of student loans are now paid by the taxpayer. According to official projections, undergraduates taking out loans in the UK in 2018–2019 will pay back 53% themselves and the remainder will be covered by taxpayers. This financial year alone, this will cost £7.4 billion. Whilst previously graduates started repaying loans themselves when they started earning £21,000, in 2017 the figure was raised to £25,000. Loans are written off after 30 years and the rest is paid off by taxpayers. Speaking at the Festival of Higher Education at Buckingham University, Chris Skidmore, the universities minister, commented: “Ultimately it is good value for money. […] And it’s not just the individuals who are benefiting. It is also for the benefit of society, training doctors and midwives, subsiding investment in local communities and world-leading research.”