Tag Archives: tuition fees

Liberal Youth members fight NUS Liar Liar campaign by donating to Liberal Democrat campaigns to #trollNUS

The National Union of Students has spent £40,000 of its money on billboards urging people to vote against MPs who broke its pledge on tuition fees in 2010. This, it should be noted, was a pledge in which they did not believe themselves. When the Browne Review came out, they were calling for a Graduate Tax. The system implemented by the Coalition is not a million miles away from that.

It should also be noted that NUS is not endorsing those Liberal Democrat MPs who actually kept the pledge, either.

The whole point of a liberal youth organisation is to stand up against unfair, collectivist nonsense wherever it may be found. Liberal Youth’s response to the NUS is very creative. It’s encouraging people to donate to Liberal Democrat candidates to troll NUS. Some of them have been making a special point of donating to Nick Clegg’s campaign to annoy NUS to the max.

This is not to say that they totally endorse what the Liberal Democrats did on tuition fees. They know we made a big mistake, but they see the nakedly partisan NUS campaign for what it is. Where was their campaign against Labour MPs who introduced tuition fees and top-up fees when they said they wouldn’t?

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The Independent View: A new report from CentreForum highlights the problems with Labour’s tuition fees policy

A new report entitled “A Labour of Love?”, released today by CentreForum and written by Tom Frostick and Chris Thoung, weighs up the pros and cons of Labour’s recently announced policy on tuition fees, one which revolves mostly around the fees being cut from their current £9k maximum to a £6k ceiling. The report can be read here.

On the plus side, the policy does acknowledge the importance of maintenance grants. It also reopens the discussion that needs to be had regarding the balance between state and individual investment in undergraduate education by lowering the percentage of loans the government estimates will not be repaid. It would also apply to all undergrads, including those currently studying, so would be fair in that regard.

But there is a lot to say about the policy that is negative. If introduced, it would have little to no impact on a staggering lowest 60% of graduate earners and would mostly benefit higher earning graduates only (and even then, up to twenty-eight years after they’ve left university). It is also costed in such a way that could discourage pension saving, and its higher interest rate scheme for wealthier graduates contributes only modestly to the intended progressiveness of the policy. 

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 61 Comments

IFS: Labour fees plan will not make any difference to repayments by the poorer half of graduates

Interviewed by Mark Mardell on the BBC’s World at One yesterday, Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies made these comments about Labour’s tuition fee plans:

photo by: schwglr
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Money saving expert Martin Lewis on Labour’s fees policy: ‘Poorer students will subsidise city investment bankers’

Here’s part of what Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, said on the BBC’s World at One today:

This is the worse type of politics for me. It is the politics that may appeal to people on the surface but it is financially illiterate…If any other party was launching a policy that effectively meant that poorer students would be subsidising city investment banking graduates, which is what this does, there would be protests in the streets and it would be led by the Labour party. I simply don’t understand how they’ve launched this.

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Institute of Fiscal studies: Labour’s tuition fees plan would “benefit higher income graduates”

In a detailed report, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, on Labour’s higher education funding plans, the Institute of Fiscal Studies concludes:

The reform to HE funding announced by Labour on 27th February would:

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Vince Cable: Labour’s tuition fee plan is “financially illiterate”

Commenting on today’s announcement from Labour, Vince Cable has said:

Labour’s policy is based on a soundbite, and as a result, is completely financially illiterate. It will do great harm to universities and create a costly black hole in the national budget.

Posted in News | 33 Comments

To hit the LibDems, Labour give £2 billion to graduates earning 32%+ above the average wage

Details of Labour’s tuition fees policy are emerging today. There is a proposed higher maintenance grant and higher interest rates for higher earning graduates. It will remain to be seen how much those two changes alter the regressiveness of the main proposal to reduce the fee cap to £6,000.

That basic policy proposal is to take £2 billion from pension tax breaks and give it to graduates who earn 32% above the national average wage.

Posted in Op-eds | 64 Comments

Lord Wallace of Saltaire writes….Liberal Democrats’ investment in education has been socially progressive

I took part in a five-party panel at York University the other weekend, organised by the University’s Politics Society, in front of a packed lecture hall with over 200 students.  No other panellist or questioner mentioned the subject of tuition fees, believed by some Liberal Democrat activists (and right-wing journalists) to be an issue that hangs like an albatross round Nick Clegg’s neck. The overwhelming impression I came away with, reinforced by informal conversations with several students after the meeting, was not that we face an outraged student body which can never forgive us for the tuition fees ‘betrayal’, as the NUS would like to portray it; it was of a student body which is switched off from party politics, unsure of whether to vote or not, but with some intelligent questions to ask.  ‘I wasn’t planning to vote until I came to this’, one student told me afterwards, ‘but maybe now I will.’

Since nobody else did, I addressed the tuition fee issue.  I said that we had found it impossible to persuade our Conservative partners in the coalition to pay for this, against the background of a yawning gap between revenue and expenditure in 2010, and had therefore focused on striking a deal that was as progressive in its impact as possible; that the package had ensured that graduates only start to pay back when they are earning good money; that the rise since then in the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying to university has shown that we got that right; and that there was no no way any future government would want to take us back to free fees in the face of other competing demands for government funding.  I went on to say that we had worked in government to put money into ‘the other 50%’ – the young people who never go to university; that doubling the number of apprenticeships, paying a Pupil Premium to encourage schools to put more resources into helping those who most need it, and expanding nursery education to give children a better start in life had proved to be more progressive and cost-effective than free fees for the better-off.

photo by: flickingerbrad
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Opinion: Labour’s Tuition Fees policy is a tax cut for the rich, paid for by the poor

University of the West of England, laboratory, science. Some rights reserved by JiscEd Miliband is announcing that a Labour government would cut university tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000. It’s more of a re-announcement as the policy’s been knocking around for a while – and you can understand why. On the surface it sounds good.

In reality, Labour want a tax hike for the poor and a tax cut for the rich.

The Coalition’s Tuition Fees policy cut the cost of university for poorer graduates (but increased it substantially for the wealthiest) and has seen not only record numbers going to university, but also the highest ever number of young people from poorer backgrounds signing up. And yes, not the Lib Dems finest hour with the pledge and all that – no doubt commentators below the line will find new and interesting things to say on that topic that no-one’s thought of in the last four-and-a-bit years.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 102 Comments

18 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds in England 72% more likely to apply to university than they were in 2006

One of the worries many people had about the new system of university tuition fees was that it might put people off from deprived backgrounds from going to university. If you listened to the Labour Party or the Guardian at the end of 2010, you’d have thought that nobody from such a background would be able to ever go to university again.

The facts, though, tell a different story. UCAS figures this week show that an 18 year old from a poorer background is now 72% more likely to apply to go to university than they were in 2006. It’s still not where it needs to be, but it shows a steady improvement. The Guardian has the story:

The gap between the numbers of rich and poor students applying to university has narrowed, with disadvantaged teenagers more likely than ever before to want to enrol.

New figures, published by admissions service Ucas, show that the application rates of 18-year-olds living in poor areas in all four countries of the UK have increased to the highest levels recorded.

What’s striking is that the rates in England are higher than Scotland where tuition remains free. It shows that the SNP Government have much to do in terms of increasing accessibility. They have recently, at long last, improved student financial support, but this has yet to show dramatic improvement. 

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Opinion: Tuition fees – grasping the nettle

We have not sold Joe Public the idea that ‘equality of opportunity’ is in the soul, in the very DNA of Liberalism, and the Liberal Democrats, and that was why we pledged free higher education.

Ordinary people do not credit us with Scottish zero tuition fees. They do not realise our non-negotiable condition of joining with the Scottish Labour Party was our policy and that it flew in the face of national Labour Party manifesto then, and since.

Posted in Op-eds | 41 Comments

Willie Rennie makes fair student finance a Scottish budget priority

There is no doubt that Willie Rennie is being brave in his choice of priorities for this year’s Scottish budget. In truth, the SNP have an overall majority at Holyrood so they don’t need to give any sort of ground.They have done the last few years, though. Last year, they gave extra money for childcare and free school meals in response to Willie Rennie’s persistent pestering. The year before it was college places.

This year, he’s taking a bigger risk. There’s an issue which in the context of the Holyrood parliament represents one of our finest hours and in the context of Westminster our worst. It’s tuition fees. Way back in 1999, Liberal Democrats fought an election saying tuition fees would be dead if they were in government and they kept that promise. We know what happened in 2010. We shouldn’t have done what we did, but, as I wrote at the time, Vince had actually managed to create a system that was fairer than the one it replaced:

However, if there were a way to get it wrong well, he’s probably done that.

Imagine for a moment if the Tories had been in power alone. I very much doubt that their Business Secretary would have tracked down Lord Browne and bent his ear about the importance of the recommendations being fair and progressive. And they are to a point. To play Devil’s Advocate a bit here, if we can’t have no tuition fees (and I’m not conceding that we can’t), then isn’t this a better option than anything else? Nobody has to pay out anything to actually go to university so access isn’t denied to those from less affluent backgrounds in the way it would be today.

And Labour? Would they, still in Government, be talking about a Graduate Tax? Of course they wouldn’t. They’d bung on the fees – although I’m not so convinced that they would have necessarily covered all the angles.  I mean, it’s coming to something when it takes a Tory to bring up the issue I blogged about earlier about interest accruing if someone takes time out to look after children. He confirmed in the House today that interest would not accrue under these circumstances.

Annoyed though I might be with him, I have to at least give some credit to Vince for taking an hour’s worth of utter tripe from the Labour benches with patience and humour. I’d rate him above just about any Labour minister you might care to mention and definitely any Tory. I loved his line about the road to Westminster having the skid marks of unenacted pledges all over it.

Y

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Why Lib Dems shouldn’t keep schtum about tuition fees

tuition fees vote“University tuition fee rise has not deterred poorer students from applying”. That was the headline in The Guardian this week reporting new analysis by the Independent Commission on Fees chaired by Will Hutton:

The raising of tuition fees to £9,000 has not put off students from disadvantaged backgrounds from applying to university – although the gap in applications between those from wealthy and poor backgrounds remains wide, according to new analysis. …

The commission found that university application rates for 18-year-olds in England have continued to recover from their post-rise lows, with application rates for 2014 entry – including students who will receive their A-level results on Thursday – almost two percentage points higher than in 2010.

While students who are not eligible for free school meals – available for pupils from households earning less than £16,000 – remain more than twice as likely to go to university, the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students has narrowed from 30.5% in 2010 to 29.8% in 2013.

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The two Orange Bookers who’ve won over the Lib Dem membership

Orange_BookIt’s 10 years since The Orange Book was published. Edited by David Laws and Paul Marshall it was widely regarded as an attempt by economic liberals within the Lib Dems to wrest back control of the party from social liberals.

Both Laws and Marshall would argue their attempt at ‘reclaiming liberalism’ (the book’s sub-title) was more about re-balancing liberalism as practised by the Lib Dems — that the party had grown intellectually lazy, happiest with simply saying ‘tax more, spend more’ as the answer to every public policy problem without thinking …

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Opinion: The new tuition fees argument – having your cake and eating it

tuition fees voteOn Friday, the Guardian published an article pointing out that a lot more public money than expected will have to be contributed to tuition fees loans.

This has been greeted with a certain amount of glee by the usual suspects. On some level, I can understand the excitement, but nevertheless, it looks like a case of trying hard to have this particular cake and keep eating it.

People who used to shout about fees are now upset that after all, the state is putting more money into the system than …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 117 Comments

EXCLUSIVE: What Lib Dem members think about nuclear power, fracking, tuition fees and online pornography

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 700 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

In advance of this year’s federal conference in Glasgow, we asked about a number of hot-topic issues that are going to be discussed here over the next few days. here’s what you had to say about the issues being debated today, Sunday…

65% say yes to nuclear power

Do you believe that nuclear power, alongside oil and gas and

Posted in Conference and LDV Members poll | Also tagged , and | 39 Comments

The good news on university applications in 5 graphs

While the attention of the world’s media was focused on an 8lb 6oz bundle of Royal joy, there was perhaps even more significant good news about young people that didn’t garner quite so much coverage: demand for higher education from young people is at or near record levels for each country of the UK in 2013. This was announced by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) yesterday, an analysis of patterns of demand from over 20 million applications for higher education from 2004 to 2013 — if ever there were a day to bury good news…

Here are five graphs which tell the story…

Demand for higher education from young people is at or near record levels for each country of the UK in 2013.

ucas figures - application figs 2013

Application rates for English 18 year olds have increased by one percentage point to 35 per cent in 2013. This increase is typical of the trend between 2006 and 2011 and takes the application rate back to the 2011 level, after its decrease in 2012. Application rates for 18 year olds in Northern Ireland have increased to 48 per cent, application rates in Scotland (32 per cent) and Wales (30 per cent) are similar to the 2012 cycle.

Application rates for young, disadvantaged groups have increased to new highs in England.

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Two thoughts on Clegg’s Manchester speech (1 of 2): how not to repeat the tuition fees mistake

Nick Clegg’s pitch to the Lib Dems’ local government conference in Manchester yesterday was given the kind of build-up that seems to be an inevitable part of leaders’ speech-making. Nick was going to ‘deliver hard truths’ to his activists, ‘issuing a warning’ that we shouldn’t return to the safety of opposition, and urging us instead ‘to embrace the future’. That’s the way you get journalists’ attention, y’see.

But the billing wasn’t so very wide-of-the-mark. Nick Clegg did in fact offer the party a stark choice. And as the vigorous comments thread on my post yesterday attests, it hasn’t been …

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New university data shows everyone was wrong about tuition fees

May I introduce you to my latest graph? It’s based on the new data just published about university applications in England and compares the application rate for university places from the most deprived parts of the country with those from the least deprived. As you might expect, the least deprived areas see a higher university application rate than the most deprived. But look what’s happened to that gap:

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Three ways to make sure you’re talking sense on student numbers, tuition fees and all that

Want to make sure your comments are grounded in solid evidence when talking about the impact of tuition fees on students numbers and the like in England? Prefer evidence that stands up to a little basic scrutiny over that which falls apart the moment you apply a critical rather than a closed partisan mind to it? Then there are three things to remember.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 16 Comments

2013 can be the year Lib Dems prove the cynics wrong, but we have to get smart

Nick Clegg after his conference speechOne of the most interesting results in Lib Dem Voice’s most recent poll of party members was the answer to the following question: Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives?

After two-and-a-half years of difficult negotiations with our Conservative partners, deep spending cuts, unpopular tax rises, hundreds of council seats lost and a national poll rating now consistently in the single figures, still only 19% of Lib Dem

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Nick Clegg beats James Bond and the Queen

The BBC reports that You Tube has published its top trending videos of 2012 in the UK. That Gangnam Style came top is not really a surprise, I suppose. What caught my eye, though, is that the Poke’s auto-tuned video of Nick Clegg’s apology over tuition fees beat that iconic moment from the Olympic Opening Ceremony with Daniel Craig and the Queen.

The Clegg video has been seen by over 2 million people. Here it is again in case you missed it…

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Opinion: Tuition fees and inconvenient truths

Wednesday, 21st November 2012 is, to use Mr Roosevelt’s words, “a date that will live in infamy”. Indeed, it was a day that finally brought the government to its knees. The coalition had well and truly been smashed to pieces.

Well, that’s what you’d believe if you were a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

What really happened? A student protest that was never aimed at achieving anything (and indeed it didn’t). The protest of November 2010 aimed to lobby MPs in the run-up to the vote on raising tuition fees. For all the cost and effort put into organising it, this week’s

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 64 Comments

Two years on from the tuition fees U-turn – what do Lib Dem members think now?

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

7-in-10 say new fees system is fairer than old


LDV asked: Overall do you think the new tuition fees system introduced by the Coalition Government is fairer or less fair than the system it replaced?

    70% – Fairer
    21% – Less fair
    10% – Don’t know

A substantial majority of Lib …

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged | 24 Comments

How progressive is the new tuition fees system?

University campusThe Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS) has been running its calculators and slide-rulers over the new system, and here are some of the key points that it has concluded:

  • “The new system eventually saves the taxpayer around £760 million per year, driven by a dramatic cut in direct public funding to universities.”
  • “But for universities, this cut is more than offset by almost £15,000 in additional fee income per graduate – a 140 per cent rise over the old system. Thus the total amount spent – from both private and public sources – on higher education is expected to increase as a result of these reforms.”
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A longer watch for the weekend: Martin Lewis on tuition fees

24 minutes and 1 second of the financial advisor and consumer champion Martin Lewis talking about the tuition fees system, how it works and what people get wrong about it:

Posted in News and YouTube | Also tagged and | 78 Comments

Opinion: Why Nick Clegg was wrong to apologise for tuition fees

When he apologised for the tuition fees debacle this week, Nick Clegg went dramatically down in my estimation.

From the start of his leadership, Clegg has taken the longer term view, and cast his gaze upon the country as a whole, rather than simply focusing, as previous leaders have, on playing to the gallery of the party membership.

His is the Liberalism of the historical sweep, as aware of the intellectual traditions that can be traced back to Edmund Burke as to the ‘pavement politics’ of David Penhaligan, and while seeing a place for both, respecting that embracing the former may leave …

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Nick Clegg: “We made a pledge. We didn’t stick to it – and for that I’m sorry”

Nick Clegg has just emailed Liberal Democrat party members:

I’ve been travelling the country talking to party members over the summer. I’ve heard a lot of you say you think it’s important for the party and me personally to address, head on, the many concerns raised about the decisions I took in recent years about higher education funding and tuition fees.

I agree. Where we get it wrong we must hold our hands up, but when we get it right, we can hold our heads up too.

That is why I’ve made this video which will be our next Party Political Broadcast and which we are sharing with the media this evening:

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Opinion: Dealing with critics on our own terms – graduate contributions

At an ALDC conference a number of weeks ago now I was encouraged by Nick Clegg’s call to be brave enough to “deal with our critics on our own terms” rather than accepting the (often false) basis for their criticisms and trying to explain away the difficult choices our party has had to make since May 2010.

So it got me thinking: why not develop our own narrative about the issue that has arguably caused us the most grief?

By accepting the premise of calling the charges incurred by students entering university from this year “tuition fees”, we tacitly accept that these are indeed fees which students pay for their tuition. Which gives the impression – thanks to all the uproar at the time the system was reformed, back in late 2010/early 2011, from the Labour Party and the NUS – that these are indeed upfront charges that students have to pay to go to university.

Posted in Op-eds | 33 Comments

The Politics of Coalition: How the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government Works

Robert Hazell and Ben Yong’s work, The Politics of Coalition: How the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government Works, is a very readable volume, written mostly in the style of an introductory politics textbook and based on extensive interviews with the participants, including at very senior levels.

The book is well done, readable, comprehensive and has a few gems lurking in the revelations from all the interviews, such as the limited involvement of Andrew Lansley and Paul Burstow in drafting the health section of the Coalition Agreement.

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