December 21, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News met with Boris Johnson MP on Thursday 19th of October to discuss the issue of rising student debt and present a feasible solution in form of the SDRS that could see student debt slashed by half and increase funding to poorer students, and in doing so turn around the falling number of applicants to universities inside of three years.

The proven idea behind the SRDS is to harness the spending power of the immediate family and therefore the community to help reduce an individual students debt by up to 50%. The SDRS is based around a similar concept to that of already existing loyalty schemes and discount cards that both students and their families are both comfortable and familiar with. Instead of the students and their family receiving a discount or points with their purchases, an amount equivalent to the current discount offered by the retailer or a percentage of the purchase value is transferred to the students SDRS Bank Account. The balance of which can be used against their student debt.

Alongside the contributions made to individual students, it is hoped that the government will provide match capped funding equivalent to the money raised by the SDRS each year to be made available to universities in the form of scholarship schemes and or bursaries to aid those students that otherwise could not afford to go to university.

Mr Johnson MP agreed that a purely commercial solution to student debt from the private sector would not work as there are to many entrenched interests including the NUS, Connexions and the Student Loans Company who at best would not support a solution that would in effect reduce their influence in the Higher Education sector and possibly lead to a reduction in their funding, and at worst actively hinder or block any development of the solution. As such government and political support for the SDRS is vital to ensure that this does not happen.

On the basis of the meeting and further development of the framework of the SDRS, Mr Johnson MP was happy to lend his support to the SDRS and will shortly be approaching a number of University Chancellors with the idea. Further to this he has also agreed to write articles and lobby government on behalf of the SDRS.

In contrast to Mr Johnson MP we emailed the Department of Higher Education and Skills (DfES) and received this response from Higher Education Student Finance Public Communications Unit.

“Thank you for your email of 28 September, about your proposed system of debt relief for students in higher education.

The Department does welcome innovative ways in which students can reduce their expenditure or their student debt, especially for the less well off students, and to provide information on local jobs. However, the Department does not endorse particular commercial schemes or particular participants in them and therefore does not "implement" systems of debt reduction in the way you propose. I regret, therefore, that we cannot help in this regard.

I am sorry I am unable to send a more favourable reply.

Yours sincerely,
Higher Education Student Finance
Public Communications Unit “

We sent a response to the above email disputing the commercial element and suggesting we would even consider a non-profit operation to run the scheme and have had no further response which is frankly typical of the current attitude the SDRS has received from the government and associated departments.