Posts Tagged ‘higher education’

I was wrong about Corbyn. Now, after this result, Labour has the space to make the case for investment

09/06/2017, 10:48:19 PM

by Ian Moss

I was wrong, Corbyn did not drive Labour off a cliff, he won seats and he dramatically increased vote share. He comes out of the election stronger but that is partially because expectations were so low. His leadership was a galvanising force for youth and his language a refreshing change from wooden managerialism; authentic and without the timid terror of trained lines to take.

The challenge is still enormous for Labour. It has lost three elections in a row and is in no better a position, in seats, than it was in 2010 and the Conservatives no worse. Yes vote share has surged, but so too has it for the Conservative party. It’s possible we are back to the two player game for good. However, for the first time in a decade there is an obvious path, one which can galvanise Labour’s coalition of support and put an offer to the country that can bind older voters with the young.

Labour’s moderates can start to be much more confident on the economy and on public spending and move on from the paralysis they have faced since 1992 on it. The Conservatives have absented themselves from the issue of fiscal credibility, as the deficit still looms large, and the public are beginning to see the cracks in their local services. Labour can make the case for investment again, in return for modest increases on the taxes of those that can bear it most and a continuing commitment on efficiency and reform.


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Browne was wrong. A graduate tax is fair.

18/12/2010, 12:30:22 PM

by Dan Howells

I felt numb last week. As I did in 2005 when “top-up” fees were passed through Parliament under a Labour government. It felt then, as it did last week, that an ever-growing price tag on education presented a much larger barrier for pupils from the poorest backgrounds.

But there is a difference between last week’s reforms and those of 2005. Five years ago, record numbers of young people were attending university. This was coupled with record government investment in higher education institutions (HEIs). Under Tory-Lib Dem plans, record student fees are combined with massive cuts to the teaching budgets of our universities. Bowne says that his “proposals introduce more investment for higher education. HEIs must persuade students that they should ‘pay more’ in order to ‘get more’. The money will follow the student”. With record cuts to teaching budgets, I wonder how exactly will students get more?

I work in schools and have spoken to many pupils who are considering applying to university in the next few years. Not one has said to me that with these reforms they are more likely to go to university.

This begs the question: is there a better way? (more…)

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Voting for tuition fees to teach protesters a lesson is appalling, and will be remembered

07/12/2010, 02:30:43 PM

by Dora Meredith

John Hemming MP’s comments yesterday, on BBC Radio Four, that he will be “very likely to vote for the increase in tuition fees simply because we cannot reward the bad behaviour from today” are appalling.

To break his pledge made to the electorate to vote against a rise in fees is one thing, but to do so, so willingly, as a result of a knee-jerk reaction to a small group of protesters is quite another.

Students have delivered a petition of over 3,000 names to Mr. Hemming, representatives have met with him to discuss the issue, and individuals have written many personal letters. As such, it is incredibly disappointing to see so many voices, including those of members of his constituency, so readily ignored.

Let’s be clear – if the current government proposals are adopted it will fundamentally alter the way higher education is perceived and valued in this country. The proposed cuts and subsequent fee rises are not only acutely unfair, but surely misjudged. (more…)

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Sadly, it’s a graduate tax that is stupid, not Vince Cable

10/11/2010, 03:00:01 PM

by Nick Keehan

With a student demonstration marching on Westminster today, it will be tempting for Labour to throw in its lot with the protesters and embark on wholesale opposition to tuition fees. Before we do, however, we should ask ourselves a question: how stupid do we think Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are?

Really stupid, that is. Not wrong. Not dishonest or unprincipled. Not sanctimonious, smug or irritating. Not ignorant or ill-informed, but stupid. Totally useless and incompetent. So inept and ineffectual that stuck on a sinking ship they would burn the lifeboats.

Whatever else they may be, Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are not that stupid. When it comes to tuition fees, however, this is what we are expected to believe. (more…)

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Conrad Landin blames Labour for the Browne report

18/10/2010, 11:30:20 AM

Reaction to the Browne report on higher education has focused on the broken promises of Liberal Democrats who pledged to vote against rises in tuition fees. For any opposition party, it is easy to fall into the trap of concentrating exclusively on the Lib Dems’ betrayal of their election pledges. Yes, this betrayal is the one, among many, that I still can’t get over – even more than their U-turn on the fundamental issue of the economy immediately after the election.

But the photos of Nick Clegg holding up his card pledging to vote against fee rises speak for themselves. While the media has devoted so much space to the betrayal that the morality of the rise in fees itself is put to one side. Which is exactly what David Cameron wants. (more…)

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Pat McFadden on the Browne report

14/10/2010, 04:05:16 PM

Student finance always combines policy with highly combustible politics. And so it is with the parties treading round the Browne Review as if it was an unexploded land mine, accompanied by headlines about degree costs running into tens of thousands which alarm students and their parents alike.

But first, step back. Many similar headlines were around in 2004 when legislation increased fees to £3,000. Since then participation has continued to rise, including from low income groups, confounding predictions that fear of debt would put off prospective students. Upfront fees were abolished, making higher education free at the point of use for students. Graduates paid but only when they were earning. And safeguards were built in to write off debt if graduates took time out of the labour market to have children or had low lifetime earnings.

There were also less welcome consequences of the 2004 changes. Charging no real rate of interest on loans had the unintended side effect of limiting student numbers because it costs the state more to borrow the money for the loans than it gets back in repayments. So although participation has gone up, universities are still held back from taking on as many students as they would wish because it is too expensive for the government. (more…)

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“What you talkin’ about, Willetts?” asks Richard Partington

11/06/2010, 10:55:57 AM

Hat tip to John Prescott (

Just four months before his ascent to the cabinet, David Willetts published a book that showed how his baby boomer generation “stole their children’s future – and how they can give it back.”

So there is great piquancy in his clearest indication yet that students could be forced to pay higher tuition fees – a move which would condemn subsequent generations to a grim financial future.

In The Pinch, Willetts explains that the baby boomers have attained a position of power and wealth at the expense of their children. Yet his comment that the current cost of students’ degree courses are a “burden on the taxpayer that had to be tackled” shows that he himself holds no remorse.

He has not pre-empted the recommendations of Lord Browne’s independent review into whether fees should rise from £3,225 a year. But he did say that students should consider fees “more as an obligation to pay higher income tax” than a debt.


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