Invited by the University of Birmingham Conservatives, controversial backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg visited campus on Friday 9th March, speaking about his views on free speech, housing, mental health, Russia and tuition fees to a packed lecture theatre of around 300 students.Written by Erin Santillo & John Wimperis on 16th March 2018
Tuition Fees Frozen
In a change of policy, Theresa May has announced that tuition fees will be frozen at £9,250
Plans for fees to rise to £9,500 for the 2018-19 academic year will now be abandoned.
May also revealed that graduates will start repaying their loans once they earn £25,000 or over, rising from the current threshold of £21,000. Graduates will pay 9% of their earnings over that threshold until their debt is paid off and if the debt has not been cleared within 30 years, it will be wiped.
Further changes to student finance were not ruled out. May promises a review of the entire system (including the controversial interest rates currently applied to loans) and has refused to rule out the possibility of a graduate tax.
“Further changes to student finance were not ruled out
There have been claims that Theresa May’s change in policy has perhaps been motivated by the fact that young people voted overwhelmingly in favour of Labour in the snap general election, in which the Conservatives suffered a net loss of 13 seats.
Guild President Ellie Keiller wrote on Facebook that the changes were ‘proof that the Government will listen if we talk to them with our votes like we did in June!’ Indeed, May herself said that the election had taught her that she needed to ‘listen to voters’, especially those who are ‘just about managing.’
“'Proof that the Government will listen if we talk to them with our votes like we did in June!'
Yet May has been criticised for not going far enough. Labour, who have promised to scrap tuition fees, dismissed changes as inadequate. Jeremy Corbyn took to Twitter to criticise May declaring her promises ‘not to raise them were meaningless.’ Similarly, Keiller wrote that fees were ‘still extortionate’ but that the changes to loan repayments threshold was ‘the real positive news’.
In possibly another attempt to listen to voters and those ‘just about managing’, May also announced an extension of the Help to Buy scheme. The scheme gives financial assistance to those buying newly-built homes, something that may help recent and future graduates as they attempt to get on the housing ladder.
Whether these new policy directives will attract younger voters remains to be seen.