The abolition of student maintenance grants is a declaration of "class war" and punishes those from poorer backgrounds "simply for being poor" says the National Union of Students (NUS).
Reforms that come into force today (Monday) mean that students can no longer apply for maintenance grants from the government, but will instead by eligible for loans which have to be paid back once a graduate has reached a certain salary level (currently £21,000).
Before this, families with an income of £25,000 or less could receive a grant of £3,387 per year towards student living costs.
Sorana Vieru, vice-president of the NUS, believes the move could dissuade bright youngsters from less well-off backgrounds from going to university.
"It's class war," she told Sam Delaney. "Graduates and students from poorer backgrounds are being punished simply for being poor.
"It's ideological, because it shows up as something else on [government] balance sheets.
"They see the grant as public expenditure, however they don't see loans as such because a graduate is meant to repay them.
"But projected figures show 46% of student loans are not being repaid, so there is no saving made from public spending.
"If you're from the poorest background and you do a three-year undergraduate course you'd be graduating with over £53,000 of debt, without interest.
"We will see a tipping point where students think this is too much to make the investment."
Listen to the full interview to find out more