Tag Archives: tuition fees

Your last chance to help us build a liberal immigration policy

There’s been a bit of a confusion over the last dates to respond to the policy consultations that the party is running at the moment.

The policy papers themselves give Friday 31st March 2018 as the final date. However, you haven’t missed the boat as the party website says we have until 4th April.

This is just as well, as I have left my response to the 67 questions of the immigration paper until the last minute as usual. I have to say that the consultation paper is one of the most profoundly depressing things I have ever …

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LibLink: Kirsty William: It’s not about whether we charge tuition fees. In Wales, we’ve found a third way

The one Liberal Democrat left in national government, Kirsty Williams, has written an article for the Guardian in which she sets out what she is introducing in Wales – a plan to help students with living costs which will support part time and postgraduate students too:

The new support package in Wales will cover those who start their course in 2018/19, wherever in the UK they choose to study. Every student will be entitled to support equivalent to the national living wage. This means that eligible full-time students will receive maintenance support of £11,250 if they study in London and £9,000 per year elsewhere if they live away from home.

This will be delivered through a mix of loans and grants, unlike in England where zero maintenance grants are available. Very small, limited grants are available in Scotland, but they too are currently reviewing the system.

Welsh students from the lowest household income will receive the highest grant – £8,100 in their pocket, and more in London. Our estimates suggest that a third of full-time students will be eligible for that full grant.

Furthermore, our data shows that the average household income for a student in our current system is around £25,000. Under the new system such a student will receive around £7,000 a year in their pocket.

However, potentially the most radical element of our reforms is to provide equivalent support for part-time and postgraduate students. Wales will be the first in Europe to achieve this. For the first time, part-time undergraduates will receive similar support for maintenance, pro-rata to their full-time counterparts.

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I was never mad at the Lib Dems and you shouldn’t be either

Going through my final exams during a general election was heart breaking. I wanted to canvass and I wanted to write, but the only thing I seemed to have time to get involved in were political debates with friends and family, and it always came back the same comment: If you’re a student, why would you vote for the Lib Dems?

I remember the day that Nick Clegg supposedly betrayed his younger voters well. I was studying for my GCSEs when a BBC news reporter announced that a video of Nick Clegg apologising had gone viral on the internet and, although I was planning on sending off a UCAS application in a couple of years, I wasn’t angry at the Lib Dems. Yet it seems that many still are.

Going to university isn’t a right granted to us when we are born and it would be unfair to expect those who haven’t attended to fund a student’s education, when they themselves could be paying taxes to the government and improve the quality of our public services. Unfortunately, not every career allows people to work their way up and requires a degree, but if that is the type of career we want, then it is fair that we take out a loan to fund ourselves and repay it when we have the funds to do so. The reason for this? Social mobility.

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Why does the Tory Government want students to be even poorer?

If you’re a prospective undergraduate student, you’ll have been shocked to see a number of universities, including Durham and Royal Holloway, offering courses above the £9000 a year threshold, which has now been increased to £9250. If you’re a current student or have confirmed your place for September 2016, you’ll be even more shocked to find out that your tuition fees could potentially increase, after you agreed on a price.

When applying for university, both student finance and my school assured me not to worry about the student loans: I would only be paying it back if I earned £21,000 and until I was 50 years old, and I would be getting a lovely bursary to support me through too, due to coming from a low income family. Of course that’s all changed and I will now be in about £60,000 worth of debt due to doing a four year course and my reliance on the bursary from Student Finance England. With tuition fees rising, is there really any incentive for students to go to university in the UK?

Jo Johnson said that ‘higher fees lead to better teaching’, yet the QS top 100 universities is not entirely dominated by British universities, with only 15 English universities making the top 100 and three Scottish universities making their way to top 100 (all of which are free to Scots and EU Nationals). In comparison there are a number of EU universities making the top 100 which have no tuition fees to EU students, including Germany, Finland and Denmark, with others offering incredibly low fees such as the Netherlands and France and many of these cheap or free courses are offered in English. That’s a lot better value for money if it’s £9000 a year (potentially more) cheaper for the same quality of education and same standard of universities.

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The economic consequences of tuition fees 

 

Volumes have been written on this site and elsewhere about the political, moral and social impacts of the coalition government increasing tuition fees in the last parliament.

I do not propose to rekindle that debate, but rather to examine the emerging, and potentially very long-term economic consequences of tuition fees.

Whilst the UK economic recovery started to gain a genuine depth, public policy makers and private sector market participants alike commented on both the narrowness of the recovery (the rate of growth being pedestrian for an economy exiting recession), the lack of wage growth, the subdued level of capital investment and lack of productivity growth.

Some of those metrics, notably wages, have shown improvement more recently, whilst demographic changes and the impact of quantitative easing on asset prices carry much of the blame for some of the other structural ills that have haunted this economic recovery.

But it is the contention of this article that the tuition fee rise has had a direct impact on the progress of the UK economy in recent years and will continue to do so in two distinct ways.

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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. 

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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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

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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.

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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

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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 …

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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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