I notice at a full meeting of Wirral Council next Monday that Labour councillors are tabling a motion entitled “Lib Dem Student Betrayal”.
Firstly it says tuition fees will triple. This is incorrect. At the moment there’s a cap of £3,000 so universities can charge anything from £0 to £3000. If the new proposals are accepted £9000 is just an upper ceiling for what they can charge. The way the motion is worded you’d think all universities will all charge the most that they can; the truth is they won’t. Universities were only allowed to charge tuition fees if they also gave out bursaries. If the bursaries stay in place, this should offset the tuition fees.
A National Scholarship Programme will mean university students from poorer backgrounds might not pay any tuition fees for the first couple of years.
The pledge was “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative”. A number of Lib Dem MPs have already agreed to vote against an increase in fees, such as the Party President Tim Farron. The party has definitely been pressuring for a fairer alternative to the current system which will be extended to part-time students for the first time.
Labour also have the gall to put in their motion “these cuts will reduce social mobility and create a system in which only those young people from affluent families will be able to go to university”.
However it was Labour’s introduction of tuition fees in 2003 & Labour’s wish that 50% of school leavers go to university that has led to this already. I was a student at Liverpool University in the years after tuition fees were brought in. The university population was not reflective of society as the prospect of student debt put people off from poorer backgrounds.
People from larger families were also deterred from going as having subsidised their older brothers and sister through university often their parents didn’t have the financial means to have more than one of their children at university at a time.
I do not have any problem with more young people going to university. Has our economy now or even in three years time got enough graduate-level jobs for them to pay off their student debts and loans after they graduate? In the last few years I have known many graduates struggle to find employment or in the case of postgraduate students turned down for jobs because they’re “over qualified”.