How The 2017 General Election Could Affect University Students
How will each party affect you if you’re a university student? We combed through each of the major party’s manifestos to find out before you scribble a big X in that all-important box.
In just two weeks, the British public will be heading to the polls. (Yes, again.)
Aside from Brexit, the economy and immigration, one of the biggest talking points heading into this election has been higher education. Will tuition fees be scrapped? Will maintenance grants for the poorest students or bursaries for student nurses be reinstated? What is each party offering in return for a big X scribbled next to their name on the ballot paper?
We've summarised each party's stance on higher education for you below.
The Conservatives laid out their plans and secured reform of Higher Education earlier this year when they announced the Higher Education and Research Bill. What did this do? The headlines are that the bill toughened visa requirements for students and pledged to keep international students in net migration figures (this figure is the difference between people entering and exiting a country). Because this bill has already passed, the Conservatives have not announced a lot since, and it’s unlikely they’ll announce any new policies on the matter leading up to June 8.
However, and this is the key part, Theresa May has confirmed that the Conservatives would not scrap tuition fees if re-elected on June 8.
The Labour Party have pledged to scrap tuition fees, with new university students set to be freed from £9000+ per year fees by this Autumn, should the party prevail in June.
Students who are part way through their course would not have to continue paying tuition fees. Furthermore, Labour said that it is committed to helping students with the burden interest places on their student debts.
Labour will pay for the £9.5 billion policy by raising tax on the highest earners.
Furthermore, Labour have stated that they will bring back Education Maintenance Grants – bursaries given to the poorest and most disadvantaged students in order to help them at university – which were controversially scrapped over a year ago by the Conservatives.
(The cost of higher education is currently set to a maximum of £9,250 per academic year, after being raised back in 2010 from £3,000.)
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, restore bursaries for student nurses and to give engineering graduates £10,000 to join the armed forces.
Scottish National Party
The SNP are committed to keeping higher education free for all and want to encourage those from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply to university in greater numbers.
By 2030, the SNP hope that “students from the 20 per cent most deprived areas make up 20 percent of Higher Education entrants,” and want to “make it easier for young people to go from college to university.”
The Green Party, like Labour, are pledging to abolish tuition fees entirely, while also promising to reinstate Maintenance Grants. The Greens also state that they will “make sure that Brexit does not have a disastrous impact on young people’s education by creating a UK equivalent of the EU Higher Education Funding which looks set to be scrapped.”
UKIP have pledged to scrap tuition fees once economic conditions allow, restore maintenance grants, and to stop tuition fees being paid for courses where two thirds of students don’t gain graduate-level employment, or a job pertaining to their degree, within five years of leaving university.
Are you a first-time voter? If so, read our guide for new voters here.
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