Party Policy on Fees

As noted on our blog, in October 2014, we asked the main political parties for a brief statement of their position on student fees. At the time of writing (27th January 2015) we have had responses from the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and UKIP. We hope that other parties will respond soon: we will add their statements as we receive them.

Green_Party_of_England_and_Wales_logo.svgGreenThe Green Party of England and Wales believes that Higher Education is significant in the development of both individuals and communities, and agrees with the CDBU that our current system of financing universities is “unjust and unsustainable”.

Higher Education should be fully funded from general taxation and no fees should be levied for undergraduate degrees. Students’ living costs should be met through grants, and we are currently considering developing our policy so that outstanding loans for undergraduate study, taken out through recognised formal sources, are forgiven. Furthermore, we believe that real support is needed for mature students and those with families.

Whilst we do not have specific policy on the Research Excellence Framework, we are aware of the considerable disquiet which has been voiced among academics over the operation of the REF, and we recognise the research the University and College Union undertook in 2013. This demonstrated that the majority of university staff are unhappy with the method used to assess the research done in UK Higher Education institutions and would like to see it reformed. We note particularly the charge that the operation of the REF is perceived as discriminatory in relation to academic staff with disabilities and women.
Plaid_LogoPortrait_RGBPlaid CymruPlaid Cymru wants to see our universities thrive as independent institutions and recognises that delivering university funding through tuition fees needs to be balanced with national goals.

We published some time ago a discussion paper which helped initiate the process for the cross party Diamond Review.

The Party of Wales believes that bachelor’s level education should be free to Welsh students, and will continue to aspire to providing this.

This means in future:
• Prioritising Welsh residents who wish to study in Welsh universities.
• Targeting students from particularly challenging backgrounds as well as those studying subjects essential to the Welsh economy such as Science, Technology and medical degrees so that they pay fewer or no fees.
• Recognise the importance of our universities to their local economies and in attracting research investment, qualified staff and students.
The Party of Wales will work with universities to increase research capacity and integrate industry and academia. We will promote research and development related to universities, such as at the Menai Science Park that is being developed as a result of our 2012 Budget deal with the Welsh Government.

Plaid Cymru welcomes greater availability to study in the welsh language, therefore we will provide long term funding to Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol subject to evaluation.

Simon Thomas Mid and West AM
Plaid Cymru – Party of Wales Shadow Education Minister
ukip logoUKIPSubject to academic performance, UKIP will remove tuition fees for students taking approved degrees in science, medicine, technology, engineering, maths on the condition that they live, work and pay tax in the UK for five years after the completion of their degrees.

UKIP will scrap the target of 50% of school leavers going to university.

Students from the EU will pay the same student fee rates as International students.

[Text from pamphlet Policies for People provided by UKIP, October 2014]
conservative_party_logoConservativesThe Conservative Party did not respond to our request for information about its policy for Higher Education. To date we have not been able to find a formal manifesto statement on this topic. This summary of education policies by different parties does not have any mention of a Conservative policy on higher education.
LabourLabourLabour did not respond to our request for information about its policy for Higher Education. To date we have not been able to find a formal manifesto statement on this topic, though there have been statements on this topic released to the press. This includes a pledge to cut of tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000. The Labour Party website has a page on tuition fees.
Lib-Dem-logoLiberal DemocratsThis material is taken from the Liberal Democrat premanifesto:

4.5 A world class university sector, open to all

Liberal Democrats have ensured no undergraduate student in England has to pay a penny up front of their tuition fees, and students do not have to pay anything back until they are earning over £21,000 per year. We now have the highest university application rates ever, including from disadvantaged students.

But we need to ensure higher and further education remain accessible to all those who can benefit. In the next Parliament we want to get even more people going to university and do more to drive up standards.

We will:

* Expand the number of full-time two year Foundation Degrees.
* Expect all universities to support the national goal of widening participation across the sector. This will include running summer schools and setting up mentoring programmes between students/alumni and schools pupils.
* Introduce more flexibility with a credit accumulation and transfer framework to encourage more part-time study and help students transfer between and within institutions.
* Establish a review of higher education finance within the next Parliament to consider any necessary reforms, in the light of the latest evidence of the impact of the existing financing system on access, participation (including of low-income groups) and quality, covering undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
SNP logo with nameScottish National PartyThe SNP did not respond to our request for information about its policy for Higher Education. Their leader, Nicola Sturgeon has, however, consistently argued against the introduction of tuition fees in Scotland.
conservative_party_logoScottish Conservatives[Nothing received]
LabourScottish Labour [Nothing received]
SinnfeinSinn Féin[Nothing received]