UK political parties on fees: A deafening silence

A core concern of CDBU is the funding of higher education in the UK. We are not a party political organisation, but we take an intense interest in policies relevant to our aims. With an impending election, we think it is important that the public be well-informed about the intentions of different political parties. Accordingly, in October 2014, Gordon Campbell, Chair of CDBU, wrote to UK political parties as follows:

I write as chair of the Council for the Defence of British Universities. We hope that higher education will be one of the issues in the forthcoming general election, and to that end we are inviting each of the political parties to send us a statement of their policy with respect to the funding of higher education. We will post these short statements (up to 200 words long) on our website. We would particularly welcome comment on tuition fees, but would also be pleased to publish views on the role of the REF in the funding of research. I would be pleased to receive a statement of your policy by 1 December 2014.

This letter was sent to Conservative, Labour, LibDem, Green, UKIP, SNP, Sinn Féin, Plaid Cymru, SDLP DUP, Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish Labour Party*.

We are disappointed to report that to date we have had replies only from the Greens, Plaid Cymru and UKIP.

These are posted here.

We appreciate that the issue of fees is a complicated one, but it is of concern that none of the major parties appears to have worked out a policy that they are prepared to state publicly on this issue.

We will add further replies if and when we receive them.

*There were variants in some letters where appropriate. E.g. ‘I appreciate that Sinn Féin is an all-Ireland party, and that that may complicate your response, but it might help for me to say that we are principally interested in the policies with respect to the UK government in Northern Ireland.’