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Tuition Fees - Djanogly calls for a fair deal for Huntingdonshire students


23rd May 2003

Jonathan Djanogly commended plans by the Conservatives to abolish university tuition fees - describing them as 'Labour's tax on learning'.

Jonathan Djanogly, the Member of Parliament for the Huntingdon Constituency, this week commended plans by the Conservatives to abolish university tuition fees - describing them as 'Labour's tax on learning'. The proposals would save families across Huntingdonshire over £3,000 for each child in Higher Education. Across the county, there are currently 2068 school pupils aged 16-17, many of whom want go to university, but could be put off by the prospect of student debt and tuition fees.

Mr Djanogly said:

"Students from all backgrounds are suffering because of Labour’s tax on learning. Labour have let down hard-working families across our area, and put off many school-leavers from continuing their studies. We need a fair deal for students and universities, where every student can aspire to go to the top universities, every university offers places purely on merit, and every student is studying something worthwhile.

I was recently visited at the House of Commons by a constituent at university in Kent, who pointed out to me the massive burden of debt on students since Labour introduced tuition fees in 1997. Families with two or more children have to pay thousands of pounds to send their kids to university and clearly this can only result in discouraging them from going in the first place.

Our policy is fairer than the Liberal Democrat alternative â€" in Scotland, they still charge tuition fees to students after they graduate. Worse, Liberal Democrats would force the poorest students in Huntingdonshire to live at home and would not guarantee university students a full three-year course. I am proud that my party is the only party that is going to abolish tuition fees entirely.

Under Conservatives, the university sector will be smaller, better focused, and open to all who deserve to be there."

Notes

Conservative Policy

As part of Conservatives' wide-ranging reform of England’s higher education, a future Conservative administration would (i) abolish Labour’s university tuition fees, (ii) scrap Labour’s 50% university admissions target, (iii) end the proposed Access Regulator for universities, (iv) improve vocational and technical education.

The policy would be funded by the savings from (i) not over-expanding university admissions, (ii) not needing the various schemes designed to counteract the deterrent effect of Labour’s plans for top-up fees, and (iii) abolishing the proposed access regulator. This would save the £700 million that the Government wishes to raise in fees.

Liberal Democrat Policy

Fees Remain: Liberal Democrats claim that "the Liberal Democrats have already scrapped tuition fees in Scotland". But tuition fees have not been abolished in Scotland - as fees still have to be repaid after graduation (the so-called 'graduate endowment liability'). Far from abolishing tuition fees, graduates just pay later and some pay more. As Labour's David Blunkett has remarked, "it is difficult to see how anyone in Scotland has gained, with 40 per cent of students not paying fees in the first place and now having the non-fee deferred so that they have to pay after they have left university" (HC Debs, col. 1096, 17 February 2000).

Study at home: A leaked internal policy paper from the Liberal Democrats on "re-engineering the higher education" (by Phil Willis MP, cited in the Guardian, 17 January 2003) reveals that they want to force the poorest students to live at home. Students would receive a maintenance grant only if they studied locally. This would deprive students of their independence and prevent poorer students from going to the best specialist university to suit them.

No guaranteed course: The paper also reveals that Liberal Democrats would also restrict access to higher education to a two-year foundation course. Third and fourth year honours courses would only be open to students on the basis of competition. Thus students, despite having won their places through A-Level results, would face uncertainty about whether they would be able to have access to a full degree."



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