Why are the main parties silent on tuition fees?

Turning a blind eye on tuition fees

Turning a blind eye on tuition fees

Expansion of the Higher Education sector is essential to the growth and innovation of our economy; we are investing in our country’s future workforce. In the run-up to May’s general election, the mainstream parties are relatively quiet on Higher Education policy, a theme which echoed through the party conferences last year.

When the coalition raised the price ceiling on tuition fees in 2012 it came with Lib-Dem-strings attached – the minimum repayment level was raised to £21,000. This condition, although seemingly well-intentioned, now means that the RAB charge, the percentage of debt which is written off due to the terms of repayment, is estimated to be around 45% (HEPI, 2014). Let’s take a second to contemplate this; 45% of funding will be written off after 30 years.  This is perhaps great news for those students who will have debt written off but is this sustainable for our universities?

Of course it isn’t. This is hardly a revelation; it’s a simple, logical calculation which points to a gaping black hole in the sector’s finances. So if students, paying higher fees; universities, who will face funding issues and the taxpayer who will inevitably have to bail universities out aren’t winning, why aren’t we changing the policy today? Somehow the coalition has created a policy in which every party involved is losing out.

Perhaps it is because elections are rarely won on Higher Education policy, May’s general election is likely to be won on the economy and immigration policy. It would be political suicide for the Conservatives to admit that their policy is proving a disaster; the costs of admitting defeat outweigh the benefit of changing a policy which seems to have no simple solution.

Britain Student Protest

Labour have been relatively quiet and noncommittal with a counterpunch, in a BBC Radio 4 interview this morning Ed Balls maintained his support for lowering the market cap to £6,000, much to the outrage of the Universities UK group.  They highlight that £2bn a year would have to be ring-fenced to close the funding gap resultant from lowering the cap, a move which contradicts the current government’s narrative of austerity. The fact that Labour have been unbecoming on the issue is surprising because they have everything to gain from a high profile higher education policy; the potential to capture a share of the disillusioned Lib Dem voters from the 2010 general election.

The Liberal Democrats have also remained reserved on Higher Education policy, perhaps unsurprisingly considering their track record on the matter. They have opted to “review” the system upon graduation of the first affected cohort; a move which simultaneously side-steps any admittance of wrong-doing and evades committing to policy either way.

The maintaining the status quo is perhaps preferable because the problems of the current system will not bear fruit until the first £9,000 cohort’s 30-year repayment is upon us. By then it will be too late, we need a sound policy which will provide long-run stability and benefit students, universities and the taxpayer.

By Perry Scott, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.

Twitter: (@PerryJScott)


2 thoughts on “Why are the main parties silent on tuition fees?

  1. The Conservative party don’t talk about it because it is unpopular with students and the only time students and young people bother to vote is when it is in protest. Mentioning the tuition fees will stay the same is just as bad as saying ti for the first time. Labour have only mentioned it in passing because they are desperate for the younger vote and believe this is the way to do it. Without giving much consideration so the repercussions.

    I hope tuition fees stay high so that might go someway to preventing the market being saturated with people who think they can earn a middle class salary with a less than average degree. Churning people through University is not the way to add value to the economy as it devalues the status of a degree. Why not focus on apprenticeships and vocational training? I see double glazing and plumbing vans parked outside the houses in the affluent areas of where I live because being a skilled labourer is more valuable than holding a 2:1.

    Labour are a complete joke. Lowering the price of tuition fees to further saturate the workforce market that is already suffering from the unrestrained immigration legislation of the fat-cat bureaucrats of the EU. Who exactly is going to pay for the subsidy of the education of the people that won’t even be able to pay half of it back? I know, my children and grandchildren. After all, the only real answer is to repeat the process that they went through in their last premiership and borrow, borrow, borrow. I can’t believe anyone actually still buys the shit that is excreted from Ed’s mouth. You have to be truly delusional to believe that a bunch of champagne socialists are the way to prosperity for this country.

  2. ‘I hope tuition fees stay high so that might go someway to preventing the market being saturated with people who think they can earn a middle class salary with a less than average degree. Churning people through University is not the way to add value to the economy as it devalues the status of a degree.’

    The most sense I have seen anyone speak about tuition fees for a very long time – thank you! The degree is no longer an asset anymore but rather a requirement just to be on a level playing field with everyone else. A 2:1 doesn’t distinguish you from the next candidate these days.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s