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 White Paper on higher education, and the decision of the Director of Fair Access on university access agreements due soon, there must be a concerted effort once and for all to destroy the myths around the new student finance system.
The negative politics surrounding student finance must end.

All too often in the recent past, politicians and others have given greater priority to attacking the government, rather than advancing the interests of young people and students. Politicians of all parties, student leaders, trade unionists and all others with a public platform and who are listened to on these issues must now make sure that they know the facts and do everything to make sure young people and their parents also understand the facts and are not misled.

Simon goes on to stress the following points:

  • No university student studying for their first degree either full time or part time will be obliged to pay any fees starting in 2012
  • The new system of student finance is much fairer and more progressive than the one this government inherited
  • The government will do more to communicate with young people who might be applying in 2012.

Read Simon’s full piece at Left Foot Forward.

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This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • Fees are a debacle.

    The new system probably will cost you more than your predecessors, especially in your 40s and 50s.

    Of all the ill-thought out policies by the Coalition, this has to be the worst because there has been no u-turn to deal with the incompetence.

  • The more interesting question – and one I can not find an answer to is whether or not EU students will be able to get the gamut of support.

    Anyone know?

  • Chris Riley 28th Jun '11 - 5:19pm


    Like many of the technical issues that the sector faces as a result of these changes, that issue is not addressed. Another key area that is entirely left is PG fees and funding, with merely a gesture in the direction of the Smith Review, another consultation that was cut short

    The White Paper is palpably unfinished and, indeed, is full of ‘we’ll look at that later’s and ‘we’ll consult on that’s.

  • A £27,000 debt is not better than a £9k debt however you spin it.

    The tax + ni + student fees rate for a graduate on more than £21000 will be 40% (20% tax + 11% ni + 9% student fees,50% on higher rate tax payers) and this taxation rate will continue for 30 years or until it is paid back.

    The debt will rise at RPI+3% – this is the equivalent of 8.3% currently.

  • rubbish!!!!!!!!!!! i paid 3000 a year over the course of many years not upfront as you imply. this is not a fairer system – everybody is paying more just poorer students less more, however given their background they are more likely to be put off by the raise in fees. everybody is paying more and until you say sorry rather than tell students its what they really wanted all along itll only get worse

  • If only 30% of 11-16 year olds misunderstand the system this is most impressive . This is not a question of a misunderstanding by young poeple but a misunderstanding sadly by Simon that young people do not want to be saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of debt .

  • anyway why would 11 year olds know about tuition fees

  • Before students can get the facts straight the Government need to try to do so. According to Vince Cable universities will only be charginbg above 7K in exceptional circumstances. I’m not sure what exceptional meant at his school but most students applying for degrees next year will know now that 9k fees are to be the norm. The whole debacle keeps getting worse, and today saw a shift allowing more private sector degrees. Just what the Tories wanted.

  • Old Codger Chris 29th Jun '11 - 2:36am

    Students and their parents understand the new tuition fees system only too well. They also understand that one political party encouraged its candidates to sign a certain petition, and campaigned on a platform of “we’re the party you can trust”.

  • Now the rich get to pay their fees off early, while everybody else pays with interest. This is an absoluter disaster and needs to be completely rethought if higher education is to survive.

  • Steve Way – the word, ‘exceptional,’ was used. I would hazard a guess that an 80% cut in teaching grants counts as, ‘exceptional.’

  • @g

    The consultation document on early repayment is here:

    The Government have got themselves into a fearful bind. They belatedly realised that this whole new system produces significant disincentives for employers to sponsor or otherwise fund students through HE (as, obviously, it costs employers a great deal more), and also meant that employers could not really offer, as an incentive, to cover student debt to future employees.

    However, they can’t find a mechanism that, say, allows GSK to pay off the debts of a prospective chemist in return for employment without the same mechanism being open to allow wealthy parents to pay off the loans of their kids straight away, and, to be blunt, the political will to really prevent this is absent.

  • Mike Barnes 29th Jun '11 - 2:13pm

    Why on earth did they rush into this? Was university education really going to collapse unless it was fixed by 2012? They have 5 years of the fixed government to try and sort this out, thinking everything through logically, and instead it became one of the first things the coalition did. Maybe with 5 years of talking and explaining and tweaking the rules, and the students would have been more understanding. But what happened was in May 2010, future students were promised free universities, and by Novemeber 2010 it had become three times more expensive, whichever way you want to spin it. Amazing how badly they handled it.

  • @Mike Barnes

    Why did they rush into it? Because Clegg needed to make a sacrifice to prove to Cameron they could work together, and Higher Education was that sacrifice.

    Every student who now goes to university and leaves with huge debts is unlikely ever to vote Lib Dem, apart from those with rich mummies and daddies who can pay the debt off early.

  • @Mike Barnes & g
    I am no fan of the student loans, as a quick search on my username will prove, but I have to disagree with your objection to the paying of the loans early.
    the student is taking a loan from the Government for a fixed amount. Under the moral guidance of Usury the lender may request back the original amount plus inflation. The lender may also take a percentage back in risk, in this case the risk of the borrower not paying the loan back within 30 years.
    To stop or charge the student for paying back their loan early would make this loan Usury under any definition and therefore immoral under both Christian and Islamic law . As Aristotle said “It (money) doesn’t beget more money the way cows beget more cows”
    Although Ursury is a much forgotten central plank of all the major religions I personally believe it is the root cause of most of the worlds problems.

  • If the government wants people to believe what they’re being told about tuition fees, someone who has broken a written promise to his constituents is not a good choice as spokesman.

    Frankly, a Tory who had been honest with people would have been a better choice.

  • @sk84goal well it’s great that you care about the moral issues of usury. Presumably you’d like to make fixed term mortgages illegal too. But this is irrelevant to the central point that allowing the rich to pay off their student fees early entrenches inequality in a far greater way than the previous situation where fees were much lower.

  • g
    The rich will pay upfront per term as they do now for their private education, The people this will trap are the upper working class who cannot afford to pay upfront and cannot claim any of the fee waivers. I am not defending this horrible loan proposal, I have and could suggest several better ways of providing the finance to fund education, but please be careful who you are trying to target, the majority will certainly not be rich or even middle class.
    This proposal will do nothing for equality.
    Usury is wrong whoever the target, there must be a better way.

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