News give a simple guide to the main policies for students from the UK’s 5 major parties, ahead of the June 8th General Election
Brexit, social care, and terrorism have dominated the coverage of this year’s General Election but many other important issues don’t get the attention they deserve during the election campaign. One of those issues concerns the policies that specifically affect students so we’ve brought together some of our News writers to round-up the five major parties’ stances on students and university issues.
Unsurprisingly, the Conservative Manifesto shows no signs of scrapping tuition fees or reintroducing the maintenance grant for students from low income families. Under legislation passed in April, tuition fees are actually set to rise in line with inflation with the first increases set to happen in September 2017. However, bursaries will continue to be provided to attract top graduates into teaching professions and new teachers will be offered ‘forgiveness on student loan repayments while they are teaching’. If universities want to charge maximum tuition fees, they’ll have to become involved in ‘academy sponsorship or the founding of free schools’.
Elsewhere in the manifesto, international students will face tougher visa requirements and will be included in immigration statistics. There will be a commitment to establishing ‘new institutes of technology’, specialising in technical disciplines, like STEM subjects, alongside higher-level apprenticeships and ‘bespoke courses for employers’, and a commitment to the continued funding of schemes to get graduates from top British universities into public sector organisations.
By Conrad Duncan
‘Strong & Stable
Labour’s manifesto is committed to reinvestment into Further and Adult Education and the party argues that it would introduce free, lifelong education in Further Education colleges, ‘enabling everyone to up-skill or retrain at any point in life’. They have also said that they want to reinstate the ‘Education Maintenance Allowance for 16 to 18-year-olds’ from lower and middle income backgrounds in addition to offering ‘pre-apprenticeship trainee programmes’ to help increase the amount of skilled workers available for more secure employment.
For higher education, Labour are set to reintroduce maintenance grants and abolish tuition fees. They have argued that this move will match ‘many northern European countries’ who offer free higher education and that to achieve a level playing field, under a Labour government, it will be free here too. On the issue of Brexit, Labour welcomes international students and have stated that they will not be included in immigration statistics because they are not permanent residents.
By Emily Youlton
‘For the Many
Not the Few’
Focussing on the interests of young people, the Liberal Democrats have emphasised the importance of world class education, promising to reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students and continually review the financial state of universities. Avoiding a direct reference to university tuition funding, students may be justly disappointed by the manifesto’s policies regarding higher education. On a lighter note though, students can be pleased to hear that the party are promising to legalise the trade of cannabis.
Additionally, the party want to engage younger people in politics by lowering the voting age to 16, a move that has gathered much support amongst those wishing to reform the current voting system. Placing further emphasis on the problems that face young people, the party focusses on the shocking cuts to funding for mental health care over the last few years, promising to push for equal waiting times for both physical and mental health care.
By Abbie Pease
The headline pledge in UKIP’s manifesto is their commitment to scrap tuition fees for STEM students, so long as they work in their discipline and pay tax in the UK for at least five years after completing their degree. Similarly, the manifesto pledges to cover the cost of all tuition fees for medical students, provided they work within the NHS for at least ten out of the fifteen years after they qualify. The party argue that their long-term aim is to abolish tuition fees completely, as soon as ‘economic conditions allow’.
However, the manifesto also states that the decision to increase university places in recent decades has ‘deceived and blighted a generation’. It argues that many students would be better off taking other routes to the workplace rather than taking degrees and argues that UKIP supports a more career focussed education system. Other policies that might particularly interest students are the pledge to provide up to 100,000 new homes for younger people every year and the decision to cease offering EU nationals student loans once the UK has left the EU.
By Conrad Duncan
A significant part of the Green Party Manifesto that will affect students is the pledge to not only scrap tuition fees, but to also write off existing student debt. Using estimates in March, the party estimates that this would involve writing off over £14 billion expected repayments over the five years of the next parliament. If elected, the party have also added that they intend to fund full student grants and increase public investment into further and higher education, such as guaranteeing access to apprenticeships for 16 to 25-year-olds.
They also want to add a non-biased political education into the curriculum for school children and promote active citizenship, alongside lowering the voting age to 16. Regarding Brexit, The Green Party wants to guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK, which would give young people the opportunity to study, work and travel through the EU. The Green Party also want to keep schemes like ERASMUS. Finally, they intend to provide free local transport for young people and students.
By Megan Stanley
‘A Confident &