Why I will be voting against the tuition fees rise
I want to place on record why I will be voting against the proposed rise in tuition fees proposed by the Coalition government.
I firmly believe that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat plans to increase fees from £3,000 per annum to a maximum of £9,000 is not necessary, not fair and certainly not in the interests of higher education.
The idea that the huge hike in fees is unavoidable because of the deficit is nonsense. This is a long-term change, and the only reason that fees are being raised so much, is because the Government decided to cut the university teaching grant by 80%. Students and their families are paying the price for this.
The House of Commons Library has confirmed that if universities only faced the average cut faced across public services, fees would increase by hundreds of pounds, not the £6,000 proposed. Had Labour been in office we would not have made cuts of this size to the teaching grant, so high fees would not be required to replace lost income.
The Government is also replacing standard fees with a market in higher education where some students will be shopping around for the cheapest course, rather than the best course.
I was part of a Labour Government that asked students to make a contribution to the cost of their higher education. Most people accept this as a fact of life today. But students are being asked to face an unfair burden under the Coalition’s new system.
Vince Cable and Nick Clegg insist that the repayments are “progressive”. Yet just two weeks before the general election, Clegg said higher fees “would be a disaster”. Under their system most students will be paying off their debts over 30 years. Today, graduates take an average of 11 years to repay. Imagine someone who has children who have left university while their parents are still repaying their own tuition fees from more than a quarter of a century earlier.
For these reasons, I must oppose these proposals.
MP for Don Valley