Govt announces plans to introduce sharia student loans

Universities Minister David Willetts has announced plans to introduce new Sharia-compliant student loans.

The proposed system will enable people whose religious beliefs forbid them from taking out loans that accrue interest to take advantage of student loans.

Speaking at a Universities UK Conference on universities and growth, David Willetts launched a consultation on the proposed model asking for views on whether it is an acceptable alternative to the conventional system.

David Willetts said: “The government is committed to ensuring that anyone with the ability and desire can go to university. Sharia-compliant student loans will also give universities access to a wider pool of talent and help the UK get the higher level skills we need to secure long-term economic growth.

“The intention to develop Sharia law-compliant student loans was announced by the Prime Minister last year. The government is seeking feedback from current and prospective students, community representatives and higher education providers.

The consultation opened on 3 April 2014 and will run for 12 weeks.

The Muslim student body FOSIS welcomed the move as a step in the right direction.

It said it had been lobbying the government for the past three years on the difficulties Muslim students face with regards to university access due to interest-based student loans. Paying back these specific loans may take a different pathway to the traditional way, however, that is up to the company who approved these loans. Students will want to get financial help from the relevant board, so they can pay off their loans the best way for their religion.

If you want to contribute to the government’s consultation process pleas do so here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/sharia-compliant-student-finance

Meanwhile, some right-wing groups have already started calling the development a move towards a two-tier system – one for Muslims and one for everybody else.

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