Go back

For the long term, not the short

The current higher-education funding system simply puts costs onto future taxpayers, says the Labour chair of the all-party parliamentary universities group.

“Labour believes education should be free, and we will restore this principle.” The opening sentence of Labour’s higher education policy, laid out in its manifesto, not only reframed the debate but fully occupied it during this year’s general election. Given the long-term unsustainability of our current higher education funding system, reform is not only important but also urgent. We must be able to discuss alternatives beyond the ideological trenches of a system based on tuition fees. Our world-class university education certainly needs to be properly funded, but rather than putting more and more burdens on students, we must create a better and more sustainable system that provides universities with the funding they need.

Our students are already facing amongst the highest levels of debt in the world upon graduation, and the new fee increase the government sneaked through with a written statement before the election, together with the extortionate interest-rate hike to 6.1 per cent, is not going make things any easier. Even Theresa May’s former chief of staff and the author of the most recent Tory election manifesto, Nick Timothy, called the current tuition fee system “an unsustainable and ultimately pointless Ponzi scheme”. It is a scheme that leaves a burden amounting to more than £100 billion hanging over the heads of future graduates. No wonder university applications saw a 2 per cent decrease amongst home students in England this year.

This article is only available to Research Professional News subscribers or Pivot-RP users.

If you are a Research Professional News subscriber you can log in and view the article via this link

Pivot-RP users can log in and view the article via this link.