Conference: Higher education paper

Liberal Democrat Voice at Conference

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Breaking news! The Lib Dem Voice cupboard has a WINDOW! Yes, it’s a slightly unnerving black smoked glass internal window which reflects us as well as revealing the outside world, but it’s a window!

I missed Simon Hughes’ speech this morning, which is a shame as I am extremely hopeful about his capacity to advance the environmental agenda – we’ll bring you that video as soon as we’ve established that it exists.

Listening now to the motion on the Investing in Talent, Building the Economy paper (Adult, Further and Higher Education policy paper).

I’ve missed the movement from Stephen Williams, and come in on a moving and quietly angry contribution from Paula Keaveney reinforcing the anti-tuition fees message. She is a lecturer and her students are terrified of the debt their studies will leave them in, and so some work as much as a forty-hour week. Students are under tremendous pressure as they undertake “the most important thing in their life” and try to keep themselves in work.

Exciting news on the Twitter front (what’s happened to me? Half an hour of being locked in a cupboard with Will and Alex, and I’m a Twittertart): #ldconf is now the fourth most popular tag on Twitter.

David Howarth is summating now and says what we’re all thinking: this debate could have been a lot more adversarial. We’ve seen on this site from time to time the passion this subject inspires on both sides, but successful lobbying from the anti-fees contingent has won the day in advance. He’s very pleased that we’ve renewed our commitment to abolishing tuition fees in this paper “…and that’s all there is to say, really,” he says.

Nonetheless, he goes on to say something else which is possibly the single best argument against tuition fees. Higher education is not just about building a stronger economy, it’s about creating “self-confident, critical people, who know that the world is a complex place, who know that simplistic solutions offered by btabloid newsspapers don’t work.” It makes for a more tolerant, liberal society. That is worth paying for. Amen.

Both amendments to the main motion and the main motion for the paper itself were passed overwhelmingly.

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