Posts Tagged ‘tuition fees’

Short queue of applicants looking to take on Clegg

06/06/2013, 01:00:09 PM

Just twelve hopefuls applied to stand against Nick Clegg at the 2015 general election as Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Sheffield Hallam.

Party officials have whittled this down to a shortlist of four comprising of Mark Gill, Mark Russell, Oliver Coppard and Martin Mayer. All have local roots.

Gill is a pollster and a former Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI.

Russell is chief executive of the Church Army charity which is based in Sheffield.

Coppard is a former partnership manager for Barnsley Council and headed an innovative Olympics partnership between Barnsley and Newham.

Meanwhile Martin Mayer is a Unite branch secretary and a working bus driver from Sheffield. He is backed by shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett and Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts.

The hustings takes place on June 24.

Clegg has a 15,284 majority, although the seat includes a high number of public sector managers and students from the city’s two universities and three teaching hospitals. In fact, it is said the Hallam constituency has the highest number of people with a PhD degree in the country.

What of Clegg, is he beatable? The backlash from the student fees debacle will still do him harm, as will the impact of local spending cuts and public sector job losses.

However a recent by-election in the Fulwood ward in the heart of the constituency actually saw the Lib Dems increase their majority, with a four per cent swing away from Labour. They have a formidable local campaigning organisation with most of their city councillors clustered in the constituency.

Worth remembering too that a third of families here live in detached houses, with nearly a fifth of these having five or more bedrooms (the national average is less than 5%).

This is not, it is fair to say, the Sheffield of The Full Monty.

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Whip’s notebook

07/02/2012, 07:00:19 AM

By Jon Ashworth

Before I became an MP I was for many years a bag carrier, which meant a lot of marching at the side of Gordon, Harriet or Ed through Westminster corridors while trying to look serious, doing my best not to drop the wad of briefing papers and most of all desperately hoping I wouldn’t get us lost.

As a diligent member of the leader’s political office, I would usually take advantage of the opportunity to get their view on some upcoming vote at the NEC or some whipping issue causing anguish. Often a backbench MP or fellow (shadow) minster would need a word with Gordon, Harriet or Ed and so Gordon, Harriet or Ed would assure me they would speak to them “in the vote”.

I never really knew what this meant until I became an MP myself.

Now of course at one rudimentary level I knew it meant they would speak to them as they go through the voting lobbies. But I never really appreciated the whole voting lobby experience. It’s where us MPs all congregate, gossip, catch-up and have that quick word with a colleague we’ve been looking out for. We’re all busy people so it’s often where my good friends and parliamentary neighbours Keith Vaz, Liz Kendall and I get together for a quick conflab about any pressing Leicester issue.


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Sunday review: Ancient Greek by Oliver Emanuel

11/12/2011, 11:17:14 AM

by Conrad Landin

What if, in spite of what we’re constantly told about violence and vandalism on demonstrations, such action usually does have a political basis?

Is there such a thing, as David Cameron described the events of August, as “criminality, pure and simple”? As Suzanne Moore argued on Wednesday, if the PM was right about the riots, why then, and not before or after?

I would never defend the rioters and the destruction faced by predominantly-working-class communities. But can we look each other in the eyes and truly say that such events are apolitical?

In last week’s Radio 4 play Ancient Greek, this is the charge levelled at sixth-form student Alex King by his geography teacher Mr Ibrahim. Illegible graffiti have appeared; painted in corridors and etched into the deputy head’s car. And the culprit is the studious Alex, about to take up a place to study classics at Cambridge. (more…)

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Revealed: Migration cap to cost British universities £766 million per year in lost revenue and push up fees

14/10/2011, 09:39:41 AM

by Atul Hatwal

An analysis of the government’s latest higher education funding figures by Uncut reveals that British universities will lose £766m of revenue each year as a direct result of the government’s target to cut net migration below 100,000.

The cut will inevitably increase upwards pressure on fees for domestic students, according to academics.

David Cameron renewed his commitment to the target in his speech on immigration earlier this week and to achieve the government’s target of net migration in the tens of thousands, the government’s Migration Advisory Committee has identified the need for cuts of 60% in the numbers of foreign students.

Based on the current level of net migration, 239,000 per year, a reduction of 139,000 is needed to reduce net migration below 100,000, which would mean 83,400 fewer foreign students – 60% of 139,000.

Because of European law, the UK can only bar students from outside the EU which means non-EU students will bear the full brunt of the cuts.

New government figures reveal that last year non-EU students contributed £2.6bn in fees, over 30% of the total tuition fees budget. Based on these figures a cut of 83,400 would mean a revenue shortfall of £766 million per year.

If the government wanted to plug the shortfall through the tax system, this would involve tax increases equivalent to a hike in the higher rate of income tax by 1p.

Amongst the hardest hit by the revenue reduction will be some of the country’s leading universities which have the highest proportions of foreign students.

This includes the LSE, which has 65% foreign students, Imperial College with 40% foreign students and the University of Warwick with 28% foreign students.

The result of the cuts will be greater pressure to increase fees to the maximum.

Universities will typically charge foreign students fees that are several times the level that are charged to UK students, cross-subsidising costs for domestic students.

For example, a student wanting to study a physics degree at Imperial will be charged well over £20,000 per year. This is substantially more than the £9,000 tuition fees that British university students will pay at the top annual fee rate.

The cross-subsidy will have been factored into Universities’ calculations in setting fees. A senior academic at a top five university was blunt about the costs of their degrees,

“At £9,000, we don’t even cover our costs. The actual cost for a physics degree is £14,000. Without a cross-subsidy it isn’t going to work”

In contrast to the British stance, Australia recently changed its immigration policy to make it easier for its Universities to attract high-spending foreign students, particularly from India.

Similarly, the USA and Canada don’t include foreign students in their main immigration statistics that the political debate does not prevent their universities attracting valuable overseas students.

At a time when tuition fee budgets are already under pressure and several leading universities have already started pushing to lift the £9k cap, the cuts to foreign students will further destabilise higher education funding plans in Britain.

Atul Hatwal is associate editor of Labour Uncut.

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Elwyn Watkins would have unsuccessfully lobbied himself on tuition fees

06/01/2011, 11:44:36 AM

Last night the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg interviewed Elwyn Watkins, the Lib Dem candidate in Oldham East and Saddleworth. He gave lots of silly answers but the following section stood out – highlighting the ridiculousness of the broader Lib Dem position:

LK: At the time though during the general election when you came within a whisker you were standing just as a Liberal democrat. You were against tuition fees, you were against big cuts in this financial year. Now you would be an MP as part of a coalition that’s gone against many things that the Lib Dems are campaigning for in the general election. How are people on the doorstep here meant to believe what you’d say to them this time?

EW: …In a coalition you have to compromise and most people I’ve talked  to say given the financial mess that we’ve got ourselves to try and deal with it’s about time parties co-operated and they looked to try and  get things done on behalf of the country rather than for party political advantage.

LK: But on something like tuition fees for example, on the doorstep here in the general election you would have been saying that you’d vote against any rise in them. How would you have voted if you were in Westminster then?

EW: Well I would have fulfilled the coalition agreement, but my view of tuition fees hasn’t changed, I still think they’re wrong and if I was an MP I’d still campaign against them. But when you’re in a partnership with another party sometimes you get what you want, sometimes they get what they want.

So, if Elwyn Watkins had become an MP in May he would have voted for tuition fees – BUT – campaigned against them. What? What do you mean Elwyn?

How can you campaign one way but vote another? How would he have campaigned against himself? Picketing his own office? Shouting at himself? Sending himself furious letters? Distributing leaflets saying “Do not vote for Elwyn Watkins – only the Lib Dems can win here”?

And all the while having to do all this campaigning without trying too hard, in case he convinced himself, and ended up not voting the way he intended.

The Lib Dems are past masters at double-think and double-talk. Recently they added a massive double-cross. But this raises to the level of madness their already vertiginous bar of duplicity and deceit.

It all probably sounded jolly clever when Cowley St gave Elwyn his lines, but hearing it back surely even he must realise that it is rubbish. What a fool.

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Wednesday News Review

15/12/2010, 07:08:19 AM

Lords end student fees battle

Labour peers today mounted a strong challenge to plans to treble university tuition fees, including recruiting to their cause a crossbench peer and principal of an Oxford college, but were ultimately defeated in a House of Lords vote that allowed the government plans to clear parliament. The Lords chamber was packed for a vote in which a majority of peers chose not to back an amendment allowing for more consultation. Those voting in favour of the amendment numbered 215, but 283 voted against the call for more time. Peers also voted to support the government’s bid to raise the cap on tuition fees to £9,000. – Guardian

A minor rebellion headed by Baroness Sharp, the Liberal Democrat higher education spokesman, failed to cause significant damage, and the motion to allow fees of up to £9000 a year from 2012 was passed by 283 votes to 215 — a much greater margin than in the Commons last week where the Government’s majority fell to 21. In an eleventh-hour submission challenging the rise, John Saxbee, the Bishop of Lincoln told peers that it would normalise debt and was un-Christian. – Telegraph

Coalition urged to slow down over NHS reforms

Senior figures from across the health service have warned ministers that the NHS faces a “train crash” and could “implode” over the pace of the Government’s reform plans. The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will publish details today on how the Government intends to manage the process by which GPs will begin to take over the commissioning of patient care from primary care trusts (PCTs). – Independent

The ConDem shake-up of the NHS was blasted as ¬“unrealistic” yesterday, amid fears it will put the sick and elderly at risk. The “bruising” reforms would push the health service to the limit, the Commons Health Select Committee warned. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley had “no credible plan” to make efficiency savings of £20billion over the next four years, it said. And they warned it is inevitable that councils would have to cut back on social care – potentially hitting thousands of elderly people who rely on it. – Mirror

Ed’s new boys

The Labour leader head-hunted two senior political journalists from the Mirror and the Times to revamp his campaigning operation, heralding a more aggressive media strategy. The new head of strategy and communications will be Tom Baldwin, whose reporting career has seen him both land scoops and land himself in controversy. A close friend of Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s spin doctor, Mr Baldwin ran a series of articles about senior Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft, resulting in a legal action and the peer making caustic allegations about the reporter in a book. While he plays a largely backroom role, daily media briefings will be carried out by Bob Roberts, Mirror political editor for three years. – Evening Standard

Tory grumbles over court closures

Tory MPs yesterday lined up to slam the Government for closing nearly 150 courts across England and Wales. Ministers sparked fury after saying 93 magistrates courts and 49 county courts would be axed. Sheryll Murray and Jonathan Lord, MPs for South East Cornwall and Woking, were among the Tories speaking out against closures of their local courts. Mr Lord said: “I’m extremely disappointed. Woking ¬magistrates court is purpose built with fantastic disabled access and excellent youth witness provision.” – Mirror

Cabinet member and Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield Andrew Mitchell has lost his battle to save the town’s magistrates court after the Government announced a series of closures across the West Midlands. It is one of more than 140 courts to be closed in England and Wales, following the announcement. Mr Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, successfully led a Keep Justice Local campaign eight years ago when the future of Sutton magistrates was in doubt. More than 5,500 people signed a petition in protest at proposals to move the court’s caseload to Birmingham. But while he managed to save the court under the Labour government, it is now due to be closed. – Birmingham Post

Final straw for Firth

The Lib Dems have lost one of their most famous supporters after actor Colin Firth today revealed he could no longer back the party. The Bridget Jones actor said he is now ‘without affiliation’ in a fresh blow for Nick Clegg’s party who have few celebrity actors. Mr Firth said he has become disillusioned with the party and his ‘compass has not stopped spinning’ after they switched several of their policies after the election. – Daily Mail

The star of Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones’s Diary refused to criticise Clegg for forming a Coalition with the Conservative Party. “I’m not impugning his integrity, simply because I do believe he did what he thought was his only choice at that time, given the parliamentary situation and it being impossible to do a deal with Labour.” However, Firth, 50, said that the Coalition had compromised the LibDems and “made it difficult for us who thought progressive politics would be the way forward”. Firth and his wife, Livia, became friendly with Clegg and his wife, Miriam, in the run-up to the election. The actor joined Clegg on the election trail in May. – Telegraph

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The government is playing fast and loose with Britain’s security

08/11/2010, 09:00:34 AM

by John Woodcock

David Cameron and Nick Clegg look more like a political yin and yang with every day that passes. The unseemly deal we have just witnessed between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on Trident and tuition fees highlights the way the two leaders have intertwined their fate.

We should be in no doubt about what has happened – the Lib Dems have spectacularly broken their word on higher fees in return for securing a delay on renewing the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent.

On one level, this is simply base horse trading upon which the dynamics of coalition politics have shone a light. But it is initially hard to understand why Nick Clegg should have been prepared to swallow such humiliation for himself while his coalition partners seem relatively unscathed. Until, that is, you consider the less obvious but potentially equally severe damage to Cameron’s reputation from messing around with Trident renewal in the way that he has.

The reaction from key Conservative backbenchers on this has been derisory and unremittingly hostile. They point out that the UK’s ultimate means of defending itself is the last issue on which a prime minister should have been prepared to trade. They worry about the extra cost and risk piled on the project by delaying the build timetable and punting the ‘main gate’ investment decision to the other side of a general election.

As the MP representing the thousands of workers in Barrow shipyard whose economic future depends on continuing orders, and as part of an opposition which wants Britain to remain credible on protecting its citizens, I am not afraid to say that I share those concerns. (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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