With tuition fee cuts, Labour is trying to relieve students of long-standing debt

What Labour is trying to address through its policy is the burden of unpaid debt still haunting students until it is finally written off 30 years after graduating

Click to follow
The Independent Online

From the student’s point of view it has to be a question of “what’s not to like?” about a cut in fees to £6,000 a year.

However, the man in charge of universities when Labour left office, Lord Mandelson, was right last week when he said there was not exactly a “clamour” to reduce fees at the moment.

University applications are going up - amongst potential students from disadvantaged communities.  Their number one priority, it is said, is to meet the daily costs of living.

What Labour is trying to address through its policy is the burden of unpaid debt still haunting students until it is finally written off 30 years after graduating.  Then there is the question of the £21 billion bill for the taxpayers to meet the cost of the estimated 70 per cent of students who fail to pay off their debts in full.

Professor Nicholas Barr, from the London School of Economics and Policy Studies, suggested an alternative way of tackling the unpaid debt earlier this week when he suggested the threshold at which students repay their debts should be lowered from a salary of £21,000 a year to £18,000 - or at the very least should be frozen and not increased to take account of inflation.

You have to be sure the £20 billion lost to universities during the lifetime of the next Parliament will be made up by Labour before supporting this proposal. Then you have to be sure that it will not swing the grey vote away from Labour - thus making its chances of being elected to carry out the pledge more remote as it takes money away from income tax relief on pensions.

Comments