Food Editor Caitlin Dickinson examines the North-South divide, and how Northern stereotypes have affected her time at a Southern-dominated universityWritten by Caitlin Dickinson on 18th February 2018
Policy Round-Up: What’s in Store for Students?
Commentator Amelia Hiller explains and questions the proposed policies that will affect students the most
The General Election is just under a month away, if you didn’t already know, and it’s extremely important that young people go out and vote. After all, the policies implemented by a new government will see us through arguably the most pivotal years of our lives. What follows is a short guide to the party policies which will affect students and young people.
“I personally believe that a hard Brexit is May’s one and only steadfast goal
It is likely that Theresa May will lift the ban on grammar schools to add to the 163 already in place, as proposed in September 2016. Apart from this, the party has not been particularly clear on policies which will affect students. Maybe they’ll abolish tuition fees or re-introduce maintenance grants? Or perhaps they’ll just stick to their ‘strong and stable’ Brexit government, with little dedication to any other policies apart from this one, steadfast goal. Only time will tell, but I personally believe that a hard Brexit is May’s one and only steadfast goal.
With the leak of the Labour party’s manifesto, there is more clarification regarding their education policy for the election, specifically their stance on university tuition. Apparently, they will use an increase in corporation tax to fund this policy, raising an annual £20 billion from a 7% increase by 2022. In addition, they aim to scrap maintenance loans and bring back grants to the student finance system. Such policies are bound to gain support amongst students, but how realistic is the Labour party being? It’s a good thing that young people have a political party considering their best interests, although I do feel that a complete scrapping of tuition fees, plus a reintroduction of student grants is over-ambitious, and worry that if Labour were to gain a majority government and attempt to make this policy a reality, the party would face strong opposition, especially from UK businesses hit by a rise in corporation tax.
Following the scandalous tripling of tuition fees in the 2010-15 Coalition, the Liberal Democrats lost a lot of support amongst students and young people. Ironically, the party claims that ‘Education is […] the key to freedom and opportunity.’ Whilst their stance on university tuition in the 2017 Election remains unclear, they do oppose the opening of ‘divisive’ grammar schools and instead aim to protect school funding and support those from disadvantaged backgrounds, whilst encouraging the teaching of arts and sport-related subjects. In addition, the party mentions its successful introduction of new apprenticeships throughout the Coalition, therefore we can assume that it would continue to promote apprenticeships and skills training in 2017. Overall, the Lib Dems are offering an education policy which promotes equality for all. However, we remain none the wiser as to how they plan to bring this academic equality to students aged 18-25. After all, it is clear that the UK’s ‘meritocratic’ education system has experienced flaws under the major party governments in recent years. Maybe it’s time for a change?
“What could be worse than UKIP’s education policy for students?
The Green Party are big on education. They believe that Higher Education is ‘essential in developing a civilised society’, and should, therefore, be available to anybody who wishes to pursue it, regardless of background. They state that the current system of funding does not recognise the significance of Higher Education in society and therefore places a burden on less privileged students through the continued increase of tuition fees. Therefore, under a Green Party government, tuition fees would not exist, and a short-term system of student grants would be introduced. Additionally, all outstanding debts held by ex-students to the UK government would be written off, and fee-paying international students will be charged the true cost of their education, rather than inflated fees, as the party claim they would ‘properly fund’ Higher Education Institutions. I think this sounds incredibly promising, but like Labour government policies, I must question how this would be funded, and how realistic these promises would be to fulfil.
United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)
Maybe it’s because I’m an English and History student, but what could be worse than UKIP’s education policy for students? It’s fantastic that they are planning to waive tuition fees, but there is absolutely no fairness in their policy that this will only be the case for science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine students. UKIP’s new leader, Paul Nuttall, claims that his party will introduce ‘a better education system for a better Britain,’ but what’s British culture without the arts?