Not only do we have the money to cut tuition fees, but we could scrap them altogether

I've got one word for anyone who thinks that lowering tuition fees can't be done: Trident

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The Independent Online

It seems a bit rich for the vice-chancellors of leading universities to call a plan to cut tuition fees by a third “implausible”.

However, that's exactly what they've done. In a letter to The Times, vice-chancellors warned that Ed Miliband's pledge to lower the cap on fees from £9,000 to £6,000 would create a £10bn hole in revenues over five years. 

The vice-chancellors are right, that's a lot of money. But when you consider that in the last few years we've bailed out the banks to the tune of £1tn, spent billions on wars of questionable legality, and insist on replacing the £100bn Trident, it seems a tad insulting for some of the country’s best minds to be whining about £10bn.

As a student, it's painful to see the heads of our universities - who should at least be considering the views of students - offering such unambitious and unimaginative "ideas’". Surely they should be providing valuable insights into how a better society could work, instead of lazily rolling out the "there is no alternative to austerity" mantra?

Why not simply say: "we like the idea of cutting fees, but only on the condition that the state guarantees education funding"? It wouldn't go far enough, but it would certainly be better than: “it is implausible that any incoming government would be able to… find and ring fence £10 billion”.

In fact, we could raise loads if we increased corporation tax (currently among the lowest in the world), taxed the rich more heavily and clamped down on tax evasion.


Once again, the Greens leave Labour lagging behind on such policies. Much like this proposal on tuition fees, Labour are progressing, but far too slowly. Given the increasing importance of the student vote, Labour may well pay for that.

Sir Christopher Snowden, who was in charge of writing the letter to The Times, had the cheek to claim that “If you talk to students and to many mums and dads, the £9,000 is no longer the key topic.”

I’m not sure if he’s noticed, but 10,000 students demonstrated in London at the end of last year, arguing that fees should be abolished. Just four years ago, hundreds of thousands protested against the tripling of fees. And now, despite all of this, we're in £27,000 worth of debt, thanks to the Government’s decision to triple fees.

This is a debt that most of us think about all the time. It hangs over us constantly. Yet according to vice-chancellors, who all have incredibly hefty salaries, we don't actually care. It's not a key topic.

This sort of pro-tuition fee rise rhetoric is nothing new, in fact the Vice-Chancellor at my University, Sir Steve Smith, who also signed the letter, called for an increase in tuition fees just last year.

If we're going to get anywhere, then Labour need to ignore the fat cats and do more. They should take a leaf out of Germany’s book, follow the Greens’ lead and support free higher education for all.