Tag Archives: tuition fees

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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Liberal Youth: It’s time to think about Freshers

As the academic year draws to a close, most young people are thinking about the summer ahead – not us though. At Liberal Youth we’re already planning for the next academic year and we want this year’s Freshers (the inaugural party / join-a-society week at the start of the academic term) to be the one that puts us back on the map.

The Freshers period is incredibly important to our organisation, more so now than ever. We’re not naive, we know the Liberal Democrats’ reputation on campus isn’t the same as it was a few years ago, but we’re working hard …

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Opinion: Tuition fees – a progressive model for welfare?

Given the proportion of public sector spending it accounts for, in austere times welfare spending has come under the spotlight, with sizeable cuts having already being made.

Looking at who is accessing benefits to ensure those in receipt of them should be is to be welcomed. A blind eye should not, however, be turned to wealthier individuals in receipt of things like winter fuel allowance whilst cuts are made to some of the poorest in our society.

It is right that Liberal Democrats have distanced ourselves from Cameron’s musings that everyone under 25 should not be able to rely on support from …

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Tuition fees: new IFS publication says new system “substantially more progressive”

News from the IFS confirms what others, including Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis and of course Nick Clegg, have previously argued:

The government’s decision to raise maximum tuition fees to £9,000 will create a system that is “substantially more progressive” than the previous system. That is because the 30% of graduates with the lowest lifetime earnings will be better off under the new arrangements.

And no cynical comments please about just how far down The Guardian’s story this paragraph was placed 🙂


P.S. As it’s the weekend and people may have other things to do, in order to save time I’ve …

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Government win in human rights tuition fee challenge

The government has today successfully defended a judicial review challenge against its decision to raise university tuition fees. The case – brought by two students – alleged that the government acted in breach of various provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and/or numerous pieces of equality legislation when it took the decision to raise fees. On virtually all the points, the government – and Vince Cable as the relevant minister – were vindicated, both on the substantive effects of the policy and the way in which the decision was made.

You can read the full judgment in the case here (pdf) (and it’s worth doing so to read the arguments of both sides and conclusions of the judge on the likely impact of the tuition fee increase). However, here are a few key from Lord Justice Elias’s judgment:

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Opinion: Vince Cable right to abandon penalties on early student loan repayments

Vince Cable has done the right thing, for the right reasons.

The new student loan system requires well off graduates to pay a higher rate of interest on their loans – up to three percent above inflation. This helps to cover the government losses on loans to graduates who end up on low incomes – overwhelmingly women working part time after having children – as well as making the system more progressive.

Cable was worried that well off graduates would pay off their loan early, to avoid paying the interest charges. He commissioned his department to look into creating early repayment …

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Pack & Tall Debate… Tuition fees: what should Lib Dem party policy now be?

In the week of the publication of university application figures, LibDemVoice co-editors Mark Pack and Stephen Tall debate what it means for the Lib Dems’ future policy…

Stephen Tall: The publication of the University application figures for 2012 — the first year of the new £9k maximum fees regime — has something for everyone. Those who have always claimed the prospect of huge debt would deter potential students can point to the headline 8.7% decline in applications. Those who say the new fees repayments system …

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LibLink: Simon Hughes MP – Students are not being put off university by tuition fees

Simon Hughes MP writes at Comment is Free, following the publication of the latest UCAS figures.

He acknowledges the top-line 8% decline in applications and the mass protest that followed the original decision, but points out that applications from students in deprived areas have barely declined at all:

…a more objective analysis of the data shows a clearer picture. Although applications were down by a significant number, the total number of 18-year-olds in England this year is significantly down as well. If you adjust the figures to take account of changes in demographic, the application rate in England – which

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Understanding the university application figures

Ahead of the preliminary university application figures late last year, I posted five questions by which to judge them when they were published. The gist of all the questions was, “what do the figures really mean if you scratch beneath the surface?”. In particular, the big spike in applications in the last year before the new fee arrangements, coupled with the declining teenage population, means that crude headline number comparisons can be very misleading. As it turned out, the five questions were a pretty good guide to what the university application figures really meant.

Now that we have the …

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University figures: Highest year ever for teenager applications – except for last year’s spike

The BBC reports:

University applications from UK students for the first year of higher tuition fees are down by 8.7%, according to figures from the admissions service.

With fees rising to up to £9,000 per year, the impact has been biggest for England’s universities – down by 9.9%.

The LibDem Voice team have been quick to respond. Mark Pack pointed out three key facts about the figures:

1. Proportion of poor school-leavers applying to uni. at record levels
2. Best year ever for applications by teenagers save last year’s spike
3. Drop in mature student applications, which has caused the overall decrease figure

And …

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The path to 2015 should be one guided by our principles, not by doubt

Before the Christmas break, I produced an article on Lib Dem Voice about how the EU veto could and should be the first step of many where our party expresses its individuality in coalition loud and clear. After this blog I saw many opinion articles about where we stood on various issues. The conclusion? Varied.

Let’s just take one example – tuition fees. Some of us think we will be congratulated at the next General Election for making the loans system fairer. Wrong. While ensuring that up-front fees are in the past and protecting graduates by asking no one to

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“A political trauma, but a policy success” – the FT’s verdict on tuition fees

One year on from what remains, for many Liberal Democrats, the most traumatic decision yet taken by the coalition, the FT (via an editorial in the newspaper) has provided its assessment of the policy.

Here’s what the newspaper says on the policy itself:

Many academics and students continue to grumble about the move to charge undergraduates for their tuition costs. But governments looking for ways to reduce their outgoings should consider raising such charges – so long as they do it fairly, as the UK has.

It is a big concern that high college fees – and the fear of them –

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Opinion: One year on from Tuition Fees: why I’m still a Liberal Democrat

It’s one year on from the vote on Tuition Fees, so I thought I would lay out some reasons why I, as a student, am still a Liberal Democrat after our great ‘betrayal’.

Although our ministers are having to make tough choices, Liberal Democrats have won a major victory – having a tax cut for the low paid, rather than the very rich, as the Tories would have preferred. Raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 is a good way to correct the disaster Gordon Brown created when he scrapped the 10p tax band. Plus it is a tax cut …

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The Independent View: And then there was one… (Unmasked! The only backbench Lib Dem MP 100% loyal to the Coalition)

When a quarter of the parliamentary Conservative party rebels, everyone sits up and takes notice. On 24 October, 2011, 81 Conservative MPs defied a three-line whip to vote in favour of an EU referendum: cue a blaze of negative publicity for David Cameron and the Tory party whips.

But a week or so later one-quarter of Lib Dem MPs rebelled, and (almost) no one noticed. In nine separate votes on 1 and 2 November, a total of 14 Lib Dem MPs voted against various aspects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. The largest …

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Rennie challenges SNP to set fair access test for Scottish universities

The Press Association reports:

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on the Scottish Government to put a fair access policy in place, or extend the remit of the the Office of Fair Access north of the border. He said this would not only address the fair access gap for poorer students from England and Wales, but also improve the chances of Scottish students deciding to go to university.

Mr Rennie said: “With Scottish universities now able to set fees of up to £9,000 a year, and Edinburgh and St Andrews universities now the most expensive place to study in the

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Opinion: Pity the Scottish school-leavers when English fees rise

I’m a candidate in a council by-election in the Hillhead ward in Glasgow. I’m a Liberal Democrat, and the ward has a big old university slap bang in the middle of it. You’d think I’d be bricking it, wouldn’t you? After the tuition fees betrayal, students hate the Liberal Democrats, don’t they? Well they might do, but I’d like to explain how the real villains in Scotland are the SNP.

The SNP are in fact imposing thousands of pounds of up-front fees on each and every Scottish student and their families. “But the SNP have preserved free tuition!” I hear …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , and | 36 Comments

The Independent View: Coalition’s social mobility strategy failing

The government’s plan to improve social mobility has been dealt a series of blows over the past week. New education data show that trends towards a more ‘socially mobile’ Britain are pointing in the wrong direction.

Nick Clegg launched the government’s social mobility strategy last April, promising to ‘open the doors of opportunity’ to children from disadvantaged homes as they move into adulthood. Children from poor homes are half as likely to achieve five good GCSEs as their better off peers, and they account for less than one in a hundred Oxbridge students. Clegg rightly pointed out that …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , and | 8 Comments

How do the university application figures match up against my five questions?

On Sunday, ahead of the publication of the first tranche of university application figures, I posed five questions for judging what they meant. Now the full figures are out, how to do they compare to those five tests?

Let’s see…

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Five questions you should ask to make sense of the university application figures

Tomorrow the first UCAS application figures for this year are officially published, with some leaked figures having appeared in the Sunday Times today. Superficially the headline figures are not great with an apparent 10% drop. But I’m holding off forming a view until I’ve seen the full figures, because there are five key questions to ask about the figures:

1. Some courses, such as medicine, tend to have much earlier application deadlines than those for other courses. Are applications for those early closing courses dropping (which would indicate a problem) or is it that early applications for courses with later deadlines …

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Opinion: Why free university tuition for all is deeply regressive in today’s Britain

Political speeches are usually replete with statistics, numbers culled without context and thrown in the path of critics like metaphorical stingers strewn across a motorway.

But one statistic from Nick Clegg’s conference speech which deserves to live and breathe in its own right is that in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (where I currently live) more than half of children progress from school to university. In the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (where I lived before moving to Hammersmith) the figure is that just 4% of children go to University. These Boroughs are thirty minutes away from ach other …

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Opinion: What Nick should say about tuition fees at the 2015 general election

More than any other issue, tuition fees have damaged the view of our party in the country as a whole. For what it’s worth, here’s what I think our leader should say about fees when going into the next general election:

I would just like to say a few brief words about tuition fees.

As a party, we entered the last election with a promise to oppose any increase in tuition fees. As a party, we then broke that pledge. That was wrong.

Nothing can justify breaking a promise like that. Nothing. We made a mistake and we have been punished

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Labour’s odd messaging: how the party was for reversing Coalition cuts before it was against them

Mark Pack has already highlighted the pitfalls of political opponents commentating on other parties’ conferences. And he’s right of course. But it didn’t stop him, so I won’t let it stop me…

I am genuinely puzzled by Labour’s key messages based on the first two days of their conference. Day 1 kicked off with the Big Announcment by Ed Miliband that Labour is now committed to doubling tuition fees (dressed up as only The Observer could as Labour committing to ‘slashing’ fees).

Regardless of what you think about the policy, and I think I’ve made my views clear

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Tim Leunig writes: The problem with Labour’s proposed tuition fees cap

Ed Miliband has seized the initiative at the start of his conference, announcing that Labour would cap student fees at £6,000 per year. This policy is superficially attractive, and is clearly designed to win over LibDem supporters who remain angry at the rise in tuition fees.

Today I have published an analysis of Labour’s proposal. It uses the Business Innovation and Skills graduate income “ready reckoner”, which is based on data from the ONS Labour Force Survey. The underlying data are as good as they can be, although of course predicting graduate incomes in 30 years time is a dangerous …

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Ed Balls has a new take on having your cake and eating it

There are two problems with a Liberal Democrat like myself blogging about Labour Party conference. First, as I’ve so often seen from the other side of the fence, an outside blogging about another party’s conference frequently misreads what is really happening. And second, no blogger can compete with Hopi Sen and his cat.

So caveats deployed and on to the confusion that Ed Balls’s speech today left me in. For he had two messages: first, that Labour can’t promise to undo the government’s cuts and, second, that many of the cuts are wrong. Either on its own would be a …

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