Tag Archives: higher education

Ed Miliband on tuition fees: £6k not £9k. The reaction so far…

Rejoice! Rejoice! Labour has a policy.

Party leader Ed Miliband has vowed that, if Labour were in government now, they would double tuition fees to £6k from the current £3k level set by the last Labour government with immediate effect. In other words, they would undercut the Coalition’s £9k fees by £3k.

Here are some early thoughts:

1) The principle of cutting fees from £9k to £6k

The reality is the cut from £9k to £6k makes no difference to the monthly repayments that poorer students will repay once they’ve graduated and earning more than £21k.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 34 Comments

Opinion: Why millionaire graduates should stop whingeing about fees

According to new figures published this week by the Office for National Statistics, graduates earn 85 per cent more than people with only GCSE qualifications over their working lives. Extrapolated over a 40-year career lifetime, graduates are likely to earn almost £1 million more than those on current average pay of some £25,000 pa.

The latest statistics show that the differential has fallen from 95 per cent in 1993, though the level of earnings has increased substantially over those 18 years. Their publication may reopen the debate on student fees – and incite some resentment among non-graduate taxpayers …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 85 Comments

LibLink: Simon Hughes – Make university an option for all

Simon Hughes, Lib Dem deputy leader and author of The Hughes Report on access to higher education, recently had an op-ed in the Daily Express outlining the thoughts he sets out in that report.

Here’s a sample:

Last week I submitted my report to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, with more than 30 recommendations on what can be done to improve access to higher education.

These do not focus only on university admissions but on what can be done to encourage young people to think about university from an early age.

This is crucial because from the age of 13 children

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments

LibLink | Stephen Tall: Would you hire someone without interviewing them?

Stephen Tall has an article over at Dale & Co on the Hughes Report on Access to Higher Education, which he previously outlined here on Lib Dem Voice.

Stephen comments:

However, there is one recommendation in ‘The Hughes Report’ with which I take issue:

It is my firm view that interviews which are conducted by an academic who will end up teaching that particular student are too subjective. … interviews should be conducted by trained admissions personnel who will not have face to face teaching responsibilities for the interviewee. (p.33)

It’s an odd comment for two reasons. First, it

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 13 Comments

‘The Hughes Report’: Lib Dem MP’s 33 recommendations to improve access to higher education

Last week saw the publication by Simon Hughes, the Government’s advocate for higher education access, of his report for the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister on how more young people can be encouraged to apply for university. It’s received little attention, perhaps understandably given the current frenetic news cycles — but it’s a shame because the report is a serious piece of work.

Though 45 pages long in total, it presents clearly, readably and concisely 33 recommendations designed to ensure that everyone, from young to old, has the chance to experience higher education. You can read the report in full below, but there are five aspects which struck me as worth highlighting:

  • Importance of early years: the report recommends that, from primary age onwards, ‘schools can play an important role in motivating children to think about their future career and start working towards achieving their dreams’. These range from work experience opportunities to, in particular, ensuring proper advice is available at age 13-14 ‘when a young person starts to make the choices of courses influenced by the qualifications they hope for and the careers they plan.’
Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 22 Comments

End of term report for Lib Dem MPs’ Class of 2010

As the House of Commons rises this Tuesday, the BBC’s Gavin Stamp gives new MPs of all parties his end-of-term report.

Here’s what he has to say about the new Lib Dem intake:

New entrants were small in number but still accounted for almost one in six of the Parliamentary party.

No new MPs made it into the ranks of ministers or were asked to head up a series of backbench committees designed to help the party retain an independent voice on issues outside the coalition.

However, Gordon Birtwhistle and Duncan Hames became parliamentary private secretaries, the latter also finding time to

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , , , , , , , , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: The flaw at the heart of the Higher Education White Paper

Get your hands on a copy of the Higher Education White Paper and take a look at what the university sector might look like in the future. The government is promising a shiny-bright student-focused experience for all as you make your well-informed choice from a multitude of quality providers jockeying to meet your every higher education need. Welcome to Uni-Mart, where the student -consumer is king.

Except… their consumer experience won’t feel very regal under these proposals, because this White Paper contains a major flaw: it wants to encourage competition between HE institutions in the belief that a …

Posted in Op-eds | 18 Comments

Young people must get the facts on Higher Education – Hughes

Simon Hughes MP, the Government’s advocate for access to Higher Education, has a piece over at Left Foot Forward today, on the confusion surrounding student finance.

He cites the Sutton Trust’s findings that more than a fifth of 11-16 year olds believe their families will have to pay for the cost of university tuition, while a further 10 per cent believe students paid for university with money they earned before and during their studies:

This situation is clearly unacceptable. And now as we start a month where higher education is again back on the agenda, with today’s publication of the

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

John Pugh writes: is an apology in order?

There was little real choice about choosing to enter the coalition. There was little real choice about addressing the nation’s colossal budget. There was no way to avoid risking unpopularity.

As the Liberal Democrat councillors took the bullet for the coalition on local election day and Conservatives emerged relatively unscathed, it must be asked whether the extent of our defeats was avoidable. To put it another way could we have played the coalition game better – both in terms of presentation and in terms of policy?

The answer is unequivocally yes and for that reason MPs owe an apology to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 60 Comments

Opinion: the state should harness the power of markets

The story of Adam being enticed to take the apple by Eve is not merely an amusing insight into the human condition, its an example of the very first market at work.

Markets work on the principal that people respond to stimuli, economics tries to ascertain what those stimuli are, and what the impact of those stimuli on the wider community are.

The idea that the government, can or should, protect certain sectors of the economy from the market is a fallacy.

While I don’t agree with the Coalition’s (or indeed Labour’s) policy on University funding, the argument occasionally made, that charging fees …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 27 Comments

Oxbridge admissions: what the numbers actually say

It’s almost become a political cliché to quote the (apparently) (appallingly) (allegedly) low number of black students being accepted to Oxford and Cambridge Universities. But for all the widespread quoting of those numbers, there is very little done usually to put the numbers in context.

So here’s a simple chart that compares the actual admission figures for black students with what they would be if if the proportion of acceptances who are black was the same as the proportion of people who take GCSEs who are black or if it was the same as the proportion of people who get three As at A-level and are black:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 29 Comments

Opinion: Labour are to blame for the “lost generation”

Here’s a question for you. How have Labour got away with pretending that the crisis of a “lost generation” of young people has nothing to do with them? Listening to Ed Miliband pontificate about the plight of the young in Britain, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Government in which he served had nothing to do with the current crisis of devalued qualifications, lack of jobs, high house prices, crippling debts and a rising cost of living. Those young people who are thinking of joining Labour because they’re angry at the current situation should consider a few facts.

A …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 21 Comments

John Howson’s review of education policy

As we approach the end of the first year of coalition government it is worth assessing the balance sheet in respect of education. Can we as Liberal Democrats be pleased or dismayed at what has happened in education?

The two obvious big events provide contrasting pictures. On the one hand there has been the tuition fees debacle, and on the other, the Pupil Premium success. But, there has been much more to consider; new forms of academies; additional schools; changes to the ways schools are funded; abolition of EMAs; and of Quangos such as the GTCE and TDA; provision for deprived …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 12 Comments

The party strategy debate: rolling highlights

Note: If you’re catching up with this post after it was published, read it from the bottom up.

Final result – both amendment and motion passed overwhelmingly. The overall tenor of the debate was more good natured than might have been expected – people did not take the opportunity to express any unhappiness in strident tones, and the party being in coalition with the Tories until 2015 was accepted and expected, explicitly or implicitly, by all speakers. Tuition fees and NHS got mentions, but brief ones. Norman Lamb’s comments about the health debate (see below), however, were unexpected and welcome.

James Gurling, …

Posted in Conference and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 1 Comment

PODCAST: Nick Clegg Q&A

The Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Nick Clegg MP, made himself available for a question and answer session with party members this afternoon, and a packed Oval Hall at Sheffield’s City Hall called in to hear his answers.

Hear him as he talks about Lords reform and tuition fees and takes questions within topic from speakers on the floor.

And did he really forget he was in charge of the country? Find out by clicking the “play in another window” link below.

Play
Posted in Conference and Podcasts | Also tagged , and | 7 Comments

PODCAST: Q&A with Business, Innovation and Skills team

Earlier today, Simon Hughes, Lorely Burt, Vince Cable and Ed Davey joined chair Sal Brinton to answer questions from the audience about post offices, tuition fees, the education maintenance allowance and cutting red tape for small businesses.

You can hear the session in full by clicking the “play in a new window” link below.

Coming up later today: our podcasts of the Nick Clegg Q&A and a recording of our own fringe meeting, which is happening right now.

Play
Posted in Conference and Podcasts | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 2 Comments

Opinion: Young Liberal Democrats – Life After the ‘F’ Word

The last year has obviously been a rather interesting one in which to be a Liberal Democrat, particularly a young one. Sadly, as a result of some coalition decisions, notably the increase in tuition fees, some young people have chosen to leave the party. More worrying are the people that may now never join. I have always believed that the Liberal Democrats are the party that best advocates policy for young people. However, the question remains, how do we engage more young people in our party after fees?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 29 Comments

Graduate jobs up nine percent

Coalition ministers will be glad to see that predictions last year of a continuing fall in graduate jobs seems to have been wide of the mark, with the latest survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters showing an 8.9% increase in graduate jobs, with a forecast of further improvement in 2011.

Average new graduate salaries remain rooted at £25,000  and there’s clearly some way to go before the graduate jobs market fully recovers (though £25 is a figure the typical parliamentary researcher can only gaze at longingly).

As the job prospects for graduates improve, Lib Dem ministers will be keen to …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments

Simon Hughes writes… Why I’ve taken up a government post

There are many good and legitimate arguments to be had about tuition fees and whether they are the best way to fund our higher education system. These include the big concerns about intergenerational inequality, and whether the market system is the best way to drive forward excellence in our higher education institutions. Liberal Democrats have long opposed tuition fees for these and other reasons, including of course the additional concern that fees are a barrier to access into higher education.

But the one criticism that cannot be levelled at the government’s proposals is that it will make university unaffordable for future students. The system of financing for the teaching of higher education which …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments

LibLink: Simon Hughes – ‘We’re not trying to escape’

Over at The Guardian today, there’s an interview with Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes following his recent appointment as the Coalition’s ‘advocate for access to education’ despite having not voted in favour of the Government’s tuition fees proposals.

Simon talks about the difference between government and opposition:

What is it like, being in power? What’s it like, after decades of not a sniff of it? “It is entirely different, and it has taken me and other people in our party a bit of time to get used to, to be honest.” Hughes, 59, has a calm, practiced warmth, and while

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 7 Comments

Opinion: In pursuit of excellence

Earlier this month David Lammy MP highlighted the problem of the low number of black students admitted to Oxford and Cambridge Universities and called it the ‘Oxbridge Whitewash’. He wrote in the Guardian (6 Dec):

“Just one British black Caribbean student was admitted to Oxford last year. That is not a misprint: one student. Merton College, Oxford, has not admitted a single black student for five years. At Robinson College, Cambridge, a white applicant is four times more likely to be successful than a black applicant. Last year, 292 black students achieved three A grades at A-level and 475 black

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 15 Comments

Grants not fees – squaring the Lib Dem circle

Liberal Democrats should not give up the battleground of higher education finance just yet. The Party should counter-attack by arguing the case within the Coalition for substantial maintenance grants for students paid out of cutting university bureaucracy and cross-subsidy from foreign students. The Party will have to take on the red tape merchants of British higher education and the immigration obsessives in parts of the Conservative Party. However, taking on bureaucrats and right wing obsessives in the cause of student grants is a far better place from which to win the higher education argument.

Amid the student demonstrations and party …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 25 Comments

Opinion: Richard Huzzey – “I resign”

Vince Cable and Nick Clegg have pursued a strategy that has resembled a poorly-scripted comedy as much as a bitter tragedy in the past month.

This week we have reached the final act of a farcical and disastrous process whereby Liberal Democrat MPs have squirmed to escape an explicit pledge and desperately tried to equate their promise to the level of a policy aspiration.

By now all readers know the argument that a pledge is more than policy and the arguments why more help for part-timers does not balance out the damage of full marketization of fees. So, instead of repeating them, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 226 Comments

Tuition fees: How Liberal Democrat MPs voted

21 Lib Dem MPs voted against:

  • Annette Brooke (Dorset Mid & Poole North) Annette gives her reasons here.
  • Sir Menzies Campbell (Fife North East)
  • Michael Crockart (Edinburgh West)
  • Tim Farron (Westmorland & Lonsdale)
  • Andrew George (St Ives) See Andrew’s Tuition Fees Statement.
  • Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South)
  • Julian Huppert (Cambridge) See Julian’s website.
  • Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye & Lochaber)
  • John Leech (Manchester Withington) John’s tuition fees speech in full.
  • Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne) Stephen spoke exclusively to the Eastbourne Herald.
  • Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) See Greg’s article in the Daily Mirror.
  • John Pugh (Southport) John spoke to the Liverpool Echo.
  • Alan Reid (Argyll & Bute)
  • Dan Rogerson (Cornwall
  • Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 79 Comments

    +++ Tuition fees passes 323 vs 302

    Ayes to the right 323, Noes to the left 302. The Ayes have it, the Ayes have it.

    A very tight vote. Passes by more than the Lib Dem payroll vote of 18 but not by much.

    Names either way will be available when Hansard prints them.

    EDIT 1 – payroll vote diminished by 2 resigning PPSes, Jenny Willott and Mike Crockart, and of course Chris Huhne’s absence in Cancún.

    Also one Conservative PPS.

    EDIT 2 – Evan Harris of course is no longer an MP but had a piece for The Guardian today explaining why he would have voted against, but also giving …

    Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 71 Comments

    Telegraph turns on NUS over fees

    Today’s Telegraph reports that the NUS would prefer to remove almost all of the hardship grants than charge higher fees.

    The Daily Telegraph has seen emails from Mr Porter and his team in which the NUS leadership urged ministers to cut grants and loans as an alternative to raising tuition fees.

    In private talks in October, the NUS tried to persuade ministers at the Department for Business to enact their planned 15 per cent cut in higher education funding without lifting the cap on fees.

    I’m not sure this is anything other than an exercise in the dark arts on the day …

    Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , and | 16 Comments

    PMQs: A points draw amidst chuntering, Morrissey and Mornington Crescent fun

    Vince Cable lined up as a “bookend” for the Prime Minister at his question time today. One had a feeling, then, that university funding would be high on the agenda. And so it was.

    In the first section of Q&A (with Ed Miliband) I think Miliband edged a points win – perhaps in decimal places. A “Rizla” win – a fag paper’s width between them.

    Cameron failed to pick up Miliband on some obvious points. The opposition leader referred to English students likely to have the “highest tuition fees” in the world. But presumably that involves a comparison with tuition fees paid during study in other countries – rather than after graduation as in the case of the government’s proposals, which suggest “graduate contributions” rather than fees.
    Miliband also referred to the system causing debt for graduates, but the system really can’t be described as instilling “debt” in the conventional sense. Cameron missed that one also.

    In fact, Cameron only seemed to be warming up with Miliband but went on to score some corkers when Labour backbenchers asked further university funding questions.

    Quite rightly Miliband highlighted the “80% cut” figure. He seemed more on top of his game this week and made an excellent joke:

    Things are so bad that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (John Hemming) is offering his own unique solution to the votes tomorrow. He says that if you run quickly, you can vote both ways. I have to say that if the Kremlin were spying on the Liberal Democrats, we would know why: they want a bit of light relief.

    Miliband quoted back David Davis on social mobility and the university funding plans. He also quoted back Cameron from last week “not so much waving but drowning”.

    Cameron then gained a bit of composure with this rally (yes, it’s like tennis):

    We are introducing a situation where nobody pays fees up front, including part-time students—which is 40% of students—and nobody pays anything back until they are earning £21,000. Under the new system, everyone will pay back less than they pay under the current system—They will pay back less every month; that is the case. The poorest will pay less, the richest will pay more. It is a progressive system, but the right hon. Gentleman has not got the courage of his convictions to back it.

    Posted in PMQs | Also tagged , , , , and | 27 Comments

    LibLink: Tuition fees roundup

    Ahead of Thursday’s vote on student fees, advice is coming in thick and fast.

    Here’s what some senior Lib Dems have been writing publicly on the issue.

    First, Chris Rennard, who concludes:

    The crucial test for wavering Liberal Democrat MPs this week should be: is what has now been negotiated fairer and more progressive than the system Labour left behind? If it is, and I believe that it is, then I believe they should vote for it. For me, there is a simpler test. Under these new proposals, I know that an 18-year-old like me who had no parental income would

    Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , , and | 108 Comments

    Tuition fees: which way will MPs vote on Thursday?

    Today saw a weird piece of media face with an impostor conning several news outlets into reporting that Edinburgh West MP Mike Crockart was going to resign as a PPS and vote against the tuition fees increase. The impostor even got as far as being interviewed by the BBC on the World at One before the hoax was rumbled. His office said that, “Mike is still waiting to see what the final offer will be before he votes and that has always been our line”.

    (Ironically just before this took place, I was in Millbank to appear on the BBC’s

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 76 Comments

    Nick Clegg on life with the Conservatives, tuition fees and the coalition’s future

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is interviewed today in the Independent on Sunday, with the report inevitably featuring tuition fees:

    He says he is still determined to tackle social disadvantage and educational underperformance, and says that a £150m national scholarship scheme will give a year’s free tuition to 18,000 students on free school meals. Universities wanting to breach the £6,000 cap on fees, to charge up to £9,000, will have to give another free year to the poorest students.

    In the coming weeks, months and years he will need to “grit my teeth, display a bit of resilience, and explain calmly and

    Posted in News | Also tagged , , , and | 93 Comments
    Advert



    Recent Comments

    • User AvatarDavid Raw 12th Dec - 10:35am
      Is it too Machiavellian to suggest that Mrs May was the 48th Tory MP to send in a letter ?
    • User AvatarAndrew Melmoth 12th Dec - 10:23am
      I hope she gets 52% of the vote.
    • User Avatarpmknowles 12th Dec - 10:15am
      That should have been "I will be out in Bedale on Saturday"!
    • User Avatarpmknowles 12th Dec - 10:14am
      I have been campaigning for a Peoples Vote and will be out in Became on Saturday morning. I don't want a Peoples Vote though because...
    • User AvatarMartin 12th Dec - 10:05am
      At any other time, a PM in this position would not be able to continue. Joe Otten's assessment that roughly three quarters of Conservative MPs...
    • User AvatarBill le Breton 12th Dec - 9:51am
      Am tempted to write, "It's the DUP, st*pid". I wouldn't like to predict this vote, but for Conservatives remaining in office is the absolute priority....