Vince Cable: this is a fair deal for students

Vince Cable, Lib Dem secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, has sent the following email to Lib Dem members following today’s announcement of the Coalition’s proposals for higher education funding in England:

The Liberal Democrats have always championed our universities. We have long fought for a fair deal for students.

Now in Government we are in a position to turn that campaigning into real action.

The higher education package I am announcing today will promote high-quality university teaching and research. It will guarantee fair access for all, regardless of background. It will deliver a progressive, sustainable funding structure.

The key points are –

1) The poorest 30% of graduates will pay less for university – access to higher education will always be based on ability, not ability to pay.

2) Graduate contributions will be capped – we have rejected Lord Browne’s proposal to allow universities to set charges as high as they wish.

3) Maintenance grants and loans will be improved – almost one million students will receive more overall maintenance support than they do now.

4) Student loans will be extended to part time students – no longer will they be ignored by the system.

Our plans are fair for students, fair for graduates and affordable for the nation. Please click here to read the full details of our proposals.

These plans represent an important first step to improving higher education in Britain and making sure that it remains open to all.

I hope you will join me in the coming months in getting this message out to people across Britain.

Thanks and best wishes,

Vince Cable

P.S. Click here to find out more about our £7billion education package recently announced by Nick Clegg to give a fair chance for every child.

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  • 5) We are trebling the fees we pledged to abolish.

  • “this is a fair deal for students”

    And Vince Cable hasn’t really fallen down a rabbit hole either!

  • richard morris 3rd Nov '10 - 6:24pm

    Why has the early repayment issue been kicked into the long grass of ‘further consultation’.

  • I’m a history and politics teacher. Today I was exploring Liberalism with a sixth form group. We were discussing the notion that modern liberalism differed from classical liberalism by embracing the concept of positive freedom whereby the state has a role to alleviate structural disadvantages for those sections of society who are not otherwise able to enjoy an equality of opportunity. Subsequent to this we discussed the importance of education to modern Liberals as a platform to achieving this aim.

    “so how do the Lib Dems fit into this then sir?” hahahahaha good question!

  • Sometimes it would be best to say nothing at all.

    Although he really has said nothing. No apology for breaking his pledge, no aknowledgement of the moral dilema facing his fellow LD MP’s, no mention of the fact the rich can still pay in advance. Not even anything about it being at odds with recently confirmed party policy.

    In short no morals, no integrity ergo, no clue. If he acts like a Tory, talks like a Tory, cheers 1 million more unemployed like a Tory, and protects the rich like a Tory, who cares what his membership card says…. he’s a Tory.

    It will be Tebbit and Thatcher for tea next!

    Thank God some LD MP’s have the courage to keep their word. Between him and Clegg they have probably killed any chance of electoral reform. Why would anyone want more coalition (or should that be capitulation) government.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Nov '10 - 6:42pm

    “3) Maintenance grants and loans will be improved – almost one million students will receive more overall maintenance support than they do now.”

    On another thread, AndrewM points out that the rather sketchy description of the proposed arrangements for maintenance grants and loans sounds significantly less generous that what Browne recommended (and perhaps less generous than the current system in some respects).

    I think this is quite important – particularly given fears that people from lower-income families may be deterred from going to university. Does anyone know whether (and if so where) proper details of this aspect of the proposals are available? (The link described by Cable as leading to “full details” doesn’t help, as far as I can see.)

  • As a lifelong SDP/LibDem supporter and current party member I have to say this is totally wrong in so many ways. This should have been a deal breaker for the coalition agreement. It is just totally unacceptable that young people, especially from poor families, should be plunged into debt simply because they want to study and get ahead in life.

    Let me tell you a story. Years ago I had to travel on a work trip to the US. I ended up waiting for a taxi after an appointment and was talking to the security guard. He wanted to know how much it cost to go to a leading university in the UK and I was able to tell him that tuition cost absolutely nothing and that some people got grants for their living costs as well. He was amazed and said how wonderful that was.

    University tuition has huge benefits to society and should be paid out of general taxation. As long as the courses are genuinely useful for the country (a big proviso) I would willingly pay higher tax for this. I defy ANY of our MPs to vote for £9,000 a year fees. It is totally unjust.

  • norfolk boy 3rd Nov '10 - 6:51pm

    I could swear fair used to mean something entirely different just a few weeks ago

  • John Roffey 3rd Nov '10 - 6:52pm

    Ignoring the pledge[!], it is not so bad for those who are planning a high flying job in commerce, where the pay is likely to be high – these paying for their education is the same as for, say, a trainee accountant who will, in part at least, qualify outside of the state system and have to pay immediately for their training. However, it is completely the wrong formula for those training in non commercial disciplines, such as teachers, social work etc. A different system is required for this group.

    In the current circumstances, I think it is necessary to raise the entry level required to qualify for university and increase the amount supplied by the State to make sure that the most able, from all backgrounds, can comfortably afford to go to university – to deter the brightest and best would be crazy.

  • Bluster and willfull ignorance. Vince has fallen so far in so short a time.

    We all know what’s going to be asked on the doorstep and it isn’t these sops but a fundamental question about honesty, trust and election promises that voters tend to view in extremely black and white terms.

  • @muxloe: The £2.5bn pupil premium, perhaps.

  • No Vince this doesn’t Con-Vince anyone. Let us keep it simple, the Party’s policy is free University education, this should be paid for out of General Taxation. What does it say on your membership card, “no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, IGNORANCE or conformity”. Perhaps you have thrown your membership card away.

  • @stuart

    fair point……its a shame this isn’t in conjunction with a commitment to opposing a rise in tuition fees. Do they have to be mutually exclusive then?

  • Terry Smith 3rd Nov '10 - 8:33pm

    I get a sharp pain between my shoulder blades reading this.

    Et tu Vince ?

  • This is political suicide, you are alianating your core voters, take a step back and think of the ramifications for your party or what will be left of it after your vote on this proposition.

  • Trystan MorrisDafydd 3rd Nov '10 - 9:10pm

    If you people had actually read the Orange Book before the election you’d realise that your beloved party has been controlled by Neoliberals for some time. As has Labour. These developments are not in the least bit surprising, and the worst thing is, there’s much more to come. Most Lib Dems fit into the Tory party like a jigsaw, just without that overtly grotesque element that people like Cameron and Gove can’t hide.

    The “abolish tuition fees” always did seem weird in the midst of everything else the Liberal Democrats stood for, because in a nutshell, neoliberalism means…privatise as many things as you can!

    Vince Cable worked for Shell as their chief economist while they were busy collaborating in murder with the military in the Nigerian Delta – he wasn’t exactly an angel in the first place.

  • Liberal Neil 3rd Nov '10 - 10:05pm

    No Vince, it isn’t fair that future graduates who end up on average incomes will pay a greater proportion of their overall income back than those on high incomes.

    And it isn’t fair that the whole burden is being placed on future graduates while existing graduates, most of whom paid nothing or a relatively low amount towards their costs, pay nothing extra.

    In a few years time there will be new graduates earning £25K paying a marginal rate of tax/NI/fees payment at 40% while other graduates, 20 years older, earning £40K will be paying a marginal rate of 31%. That simply isn’t fair.

  • Vince – your reputation will never recover from this. You may as well start writing that final book.

    There’s no way back.

    Cameron’s unseen masterstroke when setting up the Coalition was putting Lib Dem ministers in cabinet positions to cover briefs that Lib Dems didn’t support – creating an conundrum without an answer.

    Clegg’s naivety was in refusing to get ‘red lines’ of any shape or form into the agreement.

    Game, set and match to the Tories.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Nov '10 - 11:13pm

    “Cameron’s unseen masterstroke when setting up the Coalition was putting Lib Dem ministers in cabinet positions to cover briefs that Lib Dems didn’t support – creating an conundrum without an answer.”

    That thought had crossed my mind too.

    The trouble is, I think Clegg is quite daft enough to have thought it would actually be to the Lib Dems’ advantage to have their own men in charge of these departments. If so, it’s yet another illustration of his disastrous inexperience and ineptitude.

  • I was rather taken aback when watching the BBC News at Six and they had a clip of Vince Cable being interviewed and he claimed, among other things that I expected him to say, that the policy “reflects the values of our party”. Hmmm……

  • *queues up to join the near unending list of members and activists totally unhappy with our “stance” (i.e. fold, U-turn, collapse, about-face) on tuition fees*

  • ^ I should add to my above that it isn’t a quitting issue for me, nor I suspect many other Lib Dem members/activists.

    But I bet our squirming it isn’t going down well with (ex?) LibDem voters. Mark Goodge is partly right in his comment on Jo Swinson’s article: we’d be better admitting that the dire state of government finances just can’t support scrapping or freezing tuition fees (if this is indeed the case).

  • One of the worse things coming out of Lib Dem leaders (and also members by the look of things) about tution fees is the vacuous nonsense about

    ‘why should miners subsidise students’
    ‘why should nurses subsidise students’
    Why should ********* subsidise students’

    (Substitute you own prejudice ************)

    Not only is it divisive and populist (so much for were all in it together) but it sounds exactly like working class Tory prejudice – fine coming from the Tories but I really thought Lib Dems knew better than to fall for this. Worse of all it makes the Lib Dems sound as if they think all students come from millionaire backgrounds and should just pay and pay and pay…… look at the proposals for maintenance grants – those with a household income of £42 will pay more than any other group of students – precisely the part of the population that the Lib Dems ignore at their peril.

  • Mark – it is a quitting issue for me and I have done after 40+ years as a Liberal and latterly a Lib Dem activist and supporter. I simply couln’t not knock on another door (and I’ve done that a fair few times over the years) and retain any integrity.

    Here in Oxford Unviersity and the Colleges where I work, the general feeling among academics, staff and students that I have spoken to, seems to be that Oxford wil largely return to what it was before the 1940s; mostly upper middle class, gentry and those with money. The only difference will be a scattering of a few rather self concious individuals from very poor families that have had the luck to get a bursary and many paying foreign students.

  • Labour or the Tories on their own would have done the same – or worse.

    That’s why THEY set up Browne to report AFTER the election, they knew they would have to do this and it would be unpopular with the middle class – you lot.


  • Well done Steve. I think the most effective way of disgruntled Libdems getting their message across is to tear up their membership cards and send them to Clegg. I think, and to be honest, hope that all Libdem campaigners will be laughed off the doorstep. I do feel genuinely sorry that so many of you have been shafted and misled by Clegg, Cable and co. They have even invented a new language: for “progressive” read “actions to promote the interest of the wealthy and privileged” or “let’s cut as many public sector jobs and services as we can manage and as swiftly as we can manage.” For “fair” read: “actions to promote the interest of the wealthy and privileged” or “let’s cut as many public service jobs and services as we can manage and as swiflty as we can manage.” It makes me sick in my stomach to witness jobs, services on which so many rely, being broken up with such obvious relish with little proper planning and no concern for the consequences.

    I thought Cable was a decent politician prior to the election, but now can only see a snake-like politician without a conscience, who lied and deceived his way into power abandoning all those Libdems, who believed in him. I have also spoken to people at Oxford, who sadly acknowledge that all the progress made towards a social mix will be destroyed and many prestigious universities will revert back to being the preserve of the privileged few, who can afford to pay what for most is an enormous debt. The millionaires who run the country cannot begin to understand how intimidating such a debt is – for them it represents a paltry sum and for those who pay for their children to be educated at public school, this will represent a decrease in the amount they pay. So for the wealthy this is indeed a “progressive” policy.

    I heard Danny Alexander this morning on radio 4 – he was stumbling and bumbling in his attempts to defend the indefensible – what won’t they do for power and position? Does he really have the maturity to be Chief Secretary to the Treasury?

    I really am frightened at how far and how fast this country is moving to the right, but I honestly never expected the Libdems to be the Tory hatchet men and to take on this role with such obvious relish.

  • Still don’t see any of you dreamers suggesting a different way to pay for higher education.

    Its either pay back a loan, or pay via your income tax.

    How much more tax are YOU prepared to pay to have University free for all for everybody who wants to go.

    Sure the Lib Dem candidates should not have signed those pledges, But it was party policy at the time.

    If you think you can do better , stand for MP , pledge yourself to all kinds of things to improve peoples lives,
    and then taste the bitter ash of your dreams when you find all the money has gone.

  • gramscis eyes 4th Nov '10 - 3:50pm

    Uriah Cable’s explaination last night on the radio that it was not a debt but a contribution was priceless.

  • @Stuart
    @muxloe: The £2.5bn pupil premium, perhaps

    The Pupil Premium is not an excuse for Lib Dems to vote for this. You have been duped over that as well. It is being paid for by the complete withdrawal of EMA which disadvantages poorer 6th formers, cuts in Welfare that will disadvantage the vulnerable and cuts in the Education Budget which disadvantage school children. Please do not quote this again as a ‘fair’ compromise

  • Sue,

    “I think the most effective way of disgruntled Libdems getting their message across is to tear up their membership cards and send them to Clegg.”

    How would this be effective? Without a membership card you can’t vote Clegg out.

  • “How would this be effective? Without a membership card you can’t vote Clegg out.”

    Good point, but unless there’s the prospect of a leadership election on the horizon, why will people renew their memberships? Given the way things are going at the moment, it’s not very likely at all that I’ll renew my membership when it expires next May, but I might be tempted to if it looked like there was a chance of a leadership election.

  • Sesenco.

    Could you explain how the membership could vote Clegg out please?

    It is a genuine question.

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