Ed Miliband’s tuition fee pledge: another reason for young people to vote Labour

Ed Miliband's tuition fees policy is equitable, good for Britain and good for the taxpayer


Ed Miliband today stood at the Leeds College of Music to deliver a speech which, it is safe to say, has been hotly anticipated – especially by young people and those who could be first time voters.

A lot has been trailed about what could be coming today, but it would appear that despite the right-wing media’s attempts to smear Ed, a promise has been given which can be delivered. More importantly, this would deliver a genuine saving for tax payers across the country from the get go.

So what is this promise?

A £3k cut in tuition fees, you might think, would cost you the tax payer more. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Fees were introduced in January 2004, so just over 11 years ago, with the idea that as a graduate’s earnings went up they would be more and more able to pay off the money that they had in effect borrowed from the government.

As the below graph shows there is a direct correlation between graduate lifetime earnings, the level at which tuition fees are set and the amount which is then paid back to the government through a person’s pay. Indeed, the higher fees go, the more unlikely it is a graduate will pay back the loan in full.

I, for one, am not surprised at this and I graduated in 2012. Since then my pay may have varied a great deal but one thing I am certain of is that, at least in my current job where I pay on average £1 (yes £1!) per month towards my fees, I will never pay back the loan in full under the current system.

Tuition fees

As @EvidenceUK so rightly points out, the potential for paying back in full is dependent almost entirely on the level at which fees are set and the potential earnings of a graduate in their lifetime. This may seem self evident but the fact remains, with wages being squashed it is unlikely that anyone graduating within the last three years and the next two (give or take) – should the current system remain – will repay their fees in full.

So what does this mean on the ground? This will entrench the need for educational institutions to spend more and more time on seeking funding from elsewhere, in effect what we’re seeing with the £9k tuition fee levels is enforced “Business-ification” of what were once considered quality educational establishments.

What Ed Miliband is offering is a rebuttal of this, it is education for all which is quality at the point of use and which most importantly will allow the government to have the money returned to them. Yes, of course, there will be many out there who want the Labour Party to go further even so far as to abolish tuition fees completely.

This is a laudable aim, but what Ed is offering is a starting point from which to begin real change both in higher education and elsewhere. A comparable example is that of the railways; many of us want them returned entirely to the public sector but until such a point as the Labour Party are in majority government this cannot be achieved as legislation is required.

Ed has offered a promise which is deliverable under a Labour government, a promise which can be relied upon and more to the point is equitable. Reducing fees from £9k to £6k would mean an average reduction in debt of around £9k per student; alongside this it will cut the burden on taxpayers in the order of £40bn by 2030.

This is not an idle promise, similar to that signed by Nick Clegg ahead of May 2010, these are fully funded allowing the full protection of our universities so they can concentrate on what they do best – offering the best possible education for the next generation. As an aspiring graduate student myself and also someone paying back laughably small amounts of my tuition fees, I for one can sign up to this straight away.

Ed’s HE policy is equitable, good for Britain as a whole, good for the taxpayer and most importantly will mean Britain retains it’s hard fought for reputation for excellence in Higher Education. This policy is reason enough for first time voters and young people to vote Labour.

Owain Gardner is a graduate of York University and co-editor of Labour Left’s Red Book

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

114 Responses to “Ed Miliband’s tuition fee pledge: another reason for young people to vote Labour”

  1. Kevin Stall

    Maybe you need to check your facts. According to the government website calculator you may pay for 16 years not 40. And the monthly payment is rather small. An interest rate of 3.3%. That is dirt cheap.

    I thought you were talking several hundred pounds repayment per month. The way students complained about student loans I thought the amounts were huge from the cries they make.

  2. Guest

    So you can’t count. 20 | 40, and yes, houses today *are* only for the rich. And no, 8640 does not equal a *before* interest debt of 45,000.

    Yes, I’m sure you spend more than £27,000 on a night out, as you defend a system where the government ends up paying MORE than the initial bill, and you talk about how it’s great that people will get less over their working lifespans than NOT going to University, unless they go into the city.

    Higher government spending, lower disposable income. Your plan!

  3. Guest

    You are arguing that we need to slash more jobs. I am arguing we need more jobs.

    There’s plenty of jobs which can be created by ending austerity and starting investing. As you spew your bigotry against an area where…well, you didn’t check the employment figures did you.

    And now you conflate masters in there, which has no loans. You’re just rabidly against Universities. And no doubt free universal schooling, too.

  4. Guest

    So you now try and extend underemployment more widely, and no I am NOT trying for your objectives, get over it.

    And I see, you object to allowing the peons more than a state-defined minimum wage, I get you now. As you whine that there’s not a 100% rate of rich people with job lined up in Universities – you won’t allow anyone else.

    YOU want to assign people crap jobs by downskilling. You object to allowing a functional, high-skill economy, as you call for MORE government spending with the existing system.

    And of course Oxbridge didn’t take you lol. Or LSE, right.

    You *are* clearly a politician…probably UKIP. As you’re concerned with the side-effects of allowing education among the 99%. As you say it’ll backfire, why, they might be able to think, as you call NORMAL employment rates “miraculous”, as you whine about allowing free thought among the masses.

    You want to ensure there’s never any chance to not become poor, I see, as you talk about the capitalist system which prevents people from becoming not-poor, as you demand the poor believe it’s good you can leech off their backs without paying tax.

  5. Guest

    3.3%, with inflation of 0.3%. Cheap you cry, cheap.
    Nope, cheap would be 0.3%. You’re throwing dirt.

    Moreover, no, payment is for 30 years, not 16, you’re lying. As you defend people getting less over their working lifespans and as usual don’t understand how student loans work – and defend, rabidly, HIGHER government spending than a simple grant!

  6. Kevin Stall

    Of course we need more jobs. But they aren’t there. And we already have more grads than we have need for. How do you propose to get the degrees needed? Luck? Or the shotgun method?

  7. Guest

    You won’t allow them with neoliberalism and austerity. As you say that we need to downskill and preclude a recovery, again.

    And I’m not proposing your 1-2 University method. Where things like “luck” and the “shotgun method” would be taught.

  8. Kevin Stall

    Go to the gov web site and see for yourself. Enter 27000 and then an income after graduation and it gives you the amount you pay back and duration. http://www.studentloanrepayment.co.uk/scheme/rep/repayment-calculator/sfe/

  9. Guest

    That is not a government site, it’s the SLC one.

    And that calculator…only tells you which plan you’re on. So as ever…

  10. Leon Wolfeson

    After finding the correct calculator..

    Right. Well, first it’s not 27k to be borrowed. Because the peons, you see, need to borrow money to live on as well. Second, it’s based on current inflation, which is very low historically.

    And that’s *starting* salary. So 22k is more realistic, per HECSU, and 6k per year for living expenses. Now, let’s see…

    Time to “repay” – 30 years (with a big debt to the government at the end!)
    Total amount repaid – £108,773

  11. Kevin Stall

    So in other words they did nothing to prepare for an education. And you want the government to totally fund them, living expenses and all. Should the schools just automatically give them top marks so they don’t have to attend class? First you want Universities free. Now you want the students totally supported while they study and party.

  12. Guest

    You’re making up nonsense, as you slur students and attack education. Universal education in general, unsurprisingly.

    You can’t argue with the figures I calculated, unsurprisingly. You instead came up with something totally different! How dare I want less government spending compared to the current system!

  13. Kevin Stall

    What figures? I used a loan calculator That the government site links to. Just how are students going to live if they don’t take out loans. It’s only student fees they are talking about cutting. You still have to provide you rent and food costs.
    But that still doesn’t answer what all these grads are going to do with their degrees. And how unfair it will be to those who don’t do well in school. You should synchronize with that since simple math concept seem to be beyond you. 46% of all grads work in jobs currently that do not require a degree. Where are all the new graduates going to work?

  14. Guest

    You don’t want them to work, right. How “unfair” that some people can get educated and compete with your rich for the jobs – as you demand that we downskill and slash the percentage of good jobs still further.

    When the problem is austerity.
    And you fail to read what I said, as ever, when I used the calculator. Or generally, as ever, as you continue your Jihad against education, just like your Cambodian Idols.

Leave a Reply