Labour leader hopeful Andy Burnham has pledged to replace tuition fees with a graduate tax if he is chosen to take the helm of the party.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the shadow Health Secretary assured students he would “lift the millstone of debt” from them.
Labour’s current policy looks to lower tuition fees across England and Wales to £6,000-per-year by reducing the tax relief which benefits those earning over £150,000 each year.
The party’s previous leader, Ed Miliband, had also vowed to introduce a graduate tax while running for Labour leadership in 2010.
Eager to put a bigger focus on apprenticeships for young people, Mr Burnham's manifesto says: “I want young people who aspire to apprenticeships to have the same clarity, ambition, and sense of purpose as those who aspire to go to university.”
He will therefore propose a national Ucas-style system for apprenticeships and extend access to student finance to help people to move to take up an apprenticeship.
“I will propose a reformed funding model for post-18 education, looking at a graduate tax to replace tuition fees for university and extend support for apprenticeships," his manifesto says.
“No young person should have to start their career weighed down by a millstone of debt. Labour will lift it off them.”
The announcement, which is drawn from his manifesto, received a mixed response online. Some took to Twitter to praise his pledge:
Good to see Andy Burnham pledging to abolish tuition fees and replace them with fees for tuition http://t.co/DmSiQKrTU4; Tommy Ball (@tommy_ball) August 6, 2015
Andy Burnham pledges to axe tuition fees & replace with a Graduate Tax, excellent policy http://t.co/1fhlxTQnYP; Ian (@Mancman10) August 5, 2015
On the whole, though, social media users didn’t seem convinced with Mr Burnham’s announcement, with one user accusing him of making the vow because “he realises the threat from Corbyn”:
Suddenly Andy Burnham supports scrapping tuition fees, despite having voted to keep them. Tomorrow he'll try to grow a grey beard.; Mark Steel (@mrmarksteel) August 6, 2015
If Andy Burnham cared so much about scrapping tuition fees, why did he defend Labour's policy of just reducing them to 6k at the election?; Alex (@AlexCatt1497) August 5, 2015
I doubt Andy Burnham actually cares about axing tuition fees or rail nationalisation, just saying it now he realises the threat from Corbyn; Alex (@AlexCatt1497) August 5, 2015
Andy Burnham - axing university fees, eh? Another bandwagon, another populist policy. Any new ideas mate? It's all sounding a bit costly?; brain delvin' (@briandlondon) August 5, 2015
Mr Burnham’s supporters said a poll released by the Opinium polling company showed he was the preferred choice for Labour voters. Data showed Mr Burnham to be on 39 per cent, compared with 24 per cent for Jeremy Corbyn, 22 per cent for Yvette Cooper, and 15 per cent for Liz Kendall.Reuse content