Ed miliband responded to David Cameron on tuition fees today, attacking the "shoddy scheme" the government is proposing. Yesterday, the prime minister, in a column in the Standard, defended the trebling of fees, and said that "before protesting, students need to get the facts straight". Today, the Leader of the Opposition said "universities and students deserve better" than what the government is offering.
Ed Miliband responded to David Cameron on tuition fees today, attacking the “shoddy scheme” the government is proposing. Yesterday, the prime minister, in a column in the Standard, defended the trebling of fees, and said that “before protesting, students need to get the facts straight”. Today, the Leader of the Opposition said “universities and students deserve better” than what the government is offering.
“Mr Cameron claims the trebling of fees is unavoidable. That is simply not the case. His Government has chosen to target a huge and disproportionate cut on our universities.
“Overall government expenditure is being cut by an average of 11 per cent. Yet Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg have chosen to target an 80 per cent cut on the public funding for teaching in our universities.
“Why? They give no justification other than that the losses universities face can be covered by the huge increase in student fees and student debt which they propose.
“Mr Cameron claims his plans are necessary to maintain the quality of our world-class university system. However he neglects to mention that under his plans, fees of £7,000-£8,000 a year are needed simply to replace lost income.”
Left Foot Forward has previously outlined the coalition’s draft plans to cut the teaching budgets of some universities like LSE and SOAS in their entirety – passing the entire cost of tuition from state to student. The scrapping of state funding of arts, humanities and social sciences degrees will result in 73 universities seeing teaching budgets cut by more than 75 per cent.
Mr Miliband goes on to write that:
“…his scheme will see those on middle incomes who take longer to repay their loans accumulate more interest, and pay back a higher proportion of their earnings than those on high pay.”
Last month, Left Foot Forward showed that bankers would fare better than teachers under the Browne Review, that although those on lower incomes will pay back a smaller proportion of their loans, graduates in top paying jobs will end up making smaller contributions than students on middle incomes.
The Labour leader also says:
“Our long-term aim is a fairer graduate tax system.”
Writing on Left Foot Forward in July, president of the National Union of Students Aaron Porter set out how a graduate tax would work in practice, explaining:
“A true graduate tax is a clear and progressive way of funding universities and removes any link to ‘sticker prices’ decided by institutions based on their self-aggrandising assessments of the future worth of their degrees.
“Choosing a place and course of study is not like buying a car and we will ensure that any system that places students in a market place cannot call itself a progressive graduate tax.”
Mr Miliband ended his column by asking how the prime minister could expect the public to buy his arguments if the Tories’ coalition partners can’t even bring themsleves to vote for the proposals:
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“The weakness of the Government’s case is clearly an issue for Mr Cameron’s Coalition partners.
“Yesterday we saw Vince Cable, the minister responsible for universities, indicate he and his Lib-Dem colleagues are preparing to back down from supporting their own bill.
“When Mr Cameron can’t persuade his own Government he is right, how can he expect the country to buy his argument?”