Ed Miliband has promised to cut University tuition fees to a maximum of £6,000 per year if Labour wins in May’s General Election.
The significant reduction from the current £9,000 fee point was announced by Miliband on Friday at a speech in Leeds.
In his speech, Miliband said: “These changes are fully funded, protecting the universities so they can continue to offer the best education. Britain needs the best educated young people in the world…Britain mustn’t penalise the young if we’re going to prosper in the future.
“In our politics, we must restore people’s faith, not further undermine it. This is an issue we cannot ignore”.
However, some students have criticised the move for not being radical enough.
David Ceaser-Heymann, Co-Chair of Oxford University Labour Club, commented: “OULC welcomes a commitment from the Labour Party to reduce tuition fees to £6,000 per year. This is a far better deal for students than offered by any of the Labour Party’s credible alternatives.
“However, OULC is dedicated to campaigning for free education. We believe that education is a right, not a privilege, and are working through organisations such as the NUS and Labour Students to achieve this aim”.
Chris Pike, OUSU VP for Welfare and Equal Opportunities, similarly argued that the reduction was not enough, saying: “As a representative of students, and in particular of students from liberation groups, I will fight for no tuition fees and no graduate tax. It is essential that we treat education as a right, and not as a good or a market, in order to make university accessible to liberation groups, particularly to disabled students”.
Other student political groups have also shared reservations over the policy.
Mark Smyth, President of Oxford Liberal Democrats, said: “Labour’s tuition fees policy is a tax cut for the rich, paid for by the poor. The beneficiaries of this will be wealthy graduates who will pay back less, whilst the repayments of lower-earning graduates wouldn’t change as their fees will already be written off before they reach £6,000.”
“This financially irresponsible policy would create a funding black hole at a time when record numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds are going to university under the current system.”
The proposed changes will come into effect from September 2016, and will primarily affect those students who are currently in their first year.
Scott Harker, a first year student at St Peter’s, said: “It seems to me that whatever the shortcomings of the changes to tuition fees brought in by the coalition government, Labour’s pledge wouldn’t really make things any better. Pledging to cut fees and make up the gap in funding to universities will only mean that there will need to be savings made elsewhere.
“Also, given the fact that most students will end up not paying back the full amount of the loan, it will be the highest earning graduates who benefit from the lower cap, it will make little difference to how much the majority of students will end up repaying”.
Miliband’s speech specifically addressed some further concerns of students, who commented on previous promises made by the Liberal Democrat party to not increase tuition fees during the 2010 General Election.
Miliband continued: “Nick Clegg made his promise on tuition fees. He broke his promise on tuition fees. It has left a whole generation doubting politics.
“Let me say this directly to Britain’s young people. I made a promise directly on tuition fees. I will keep my promise. I don’t simply want to build your faith in Labour. I want to restore your faith in change that can be believed”.