General Election 2015: What a vote for each party means for you

They really care

Look, I feel the same as most of you. We just got through all those cringe-worthy student election videos which make even Ed Miliband eating a bacon sandwich look suave, only to have the actual general election rear its ugly head.

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In the end, Leeds students decided they did not want to ‘Jake It Off’

Like it or loath it, you’re one of a subset of people who happen to be at university during a general election. While most of you might be more focused on essays and exams come May the 7th, it may be worth considering what this election means for you as a student.

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Remember this? #haha #throwback

Given how the last parliament has cost students thousands in tuition fees (not to mention costing Clegg his credibility with this entire generation), this is an election that you should have some strong feelings about.

But in an era of TV debates and Twitter propaganda in which politicians dodge direct questions like you dodge your tutor after coursework marks are released, how can you be expected to know who to vote for and what their policies actually mean to you?

Well, the confusion ends now. Cutting out all the shit you don’t care about, here’s what each party actually says about students.

Conservative

302 seats currently, expected to win 282

The Conservative Party has declined to comment on tuition fee policy but given that we’ve seen tuition fees balloon almost as much as David Cameron’s face during this parliament, we shouldn’t really expect a reduction.

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Man of the people

Between mouthfuls of peri-peri chicken, Dave’s party has promised to:

  • Support three million new apprenticeships
  • Lift the cap on university places
  • Establish a postgraduate loan system for taughtmasters and PhD courses
  • Ensure there is a university technical college within reach of every city

The Tories will also raise the the personal tax allowance to £12,500. Which is probably what your shitty graduate salary will be.

The Scottish Conservatives have promised to maintain a policy of free tuition fees in Scotland for Scottish students. So it might be worthwhile to scour the family tree for any clan names and consider investing in a kilt and some bagpipe lessons.

Labour

256 seats currently, expected to win 275

Ed Miliband – leader of the Labour party and unlicensed Bert from the Muppets impersonator – has taken time out of his busy schedule of making too much eye contact with the camera to promise to:

  • Drop the tuition fee ceiling to £6,000 per year from autumn 2016
  • Increase the maintenance grant for students from families with an income of up to £42,000 year
  • Raise the interest rate for graduates earning more than £42,000 a year from 3% to 4%, which is sure to take the smug looks off all those medics, dentists and architects faces while you serve them their coffee
  • Guarantee apprenticeships to any school leaver with suitable grades
  • Tackle the growth of unpaid internships

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The Tab’s No.1 Fan

Labour says these changes will apply to all undergraduates, not just new entrants.

Also, as yet another incentive to look for a Scottish couple interested in a very late adoption, the Scottish Labour party will keep tuition fees free in Scotland for Scottish students.

Liberal Democrats

56 seats currently, expected to win 28

The coalition has been difficult for the British people, from economic collapse to the sexual tension of Clegg and Cameron’s drawn out, will-they-won’t-they relationship.

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‘Occupying Clegg’ – the working title of my upcoming Cameron-Clegg romantic fan fiction

Bad blood aside, the Lib Dems have promised to:

  • Expand the number of full-time two year Foundation Degrees
  • Expect all universities to support the national goal of widening participation across the sector – including running summer schools and setting up mentoring programmes
  • Introduce more flexibility with a credit accumulation to encourage more part-time study and help students transfer between 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

The Lib Dems also support raising the personal tax allowance to £12,500.

Bear in mind how last year they pledged to drop tuition fees if they got into power – and then tripled them as part of the Coalition.

Democratic Unionists

Eight seats currently, expected to win eight

Better known as the “No surrender” party from across the water, Northern Ireland’s DUP have made the following statements about students:

  • The DUP opposes any further rise in university tuition fees
  • The DUP will offer student loan relief to those who commit to working in Northern Ireland for 10 years
  • The party will seek to introduce a graduate home loan scheme for first time buyers with a degree in subjects crucial to improving the economy

Scottish National Party

Six seats currently, expected to win 41

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Nicola, the ultimate M.I.L.V.F. (Minster I’d like to vote for)

The woman who’s been wearing nothing but a cranberry blazer and some sensible shoes in my dreams ever since the debates – Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have stated the following:

  • The SNP continues to support completely free education for Scottish students
  • The SNP introduced and continues to support free tuition for asylum seekers living in Scotland for 3 years or more prior to attending university

Sinn Féin 

Five seats currently, expected to win five

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They all have names that you probably couldn’t pronounce

Pronounced “Shin faine” – Sinn Féin still maintain the practice of abstentionism in parliament but it has been rumoured that they may take up their seats this election in the case of a hung parliament.

In regard to university policy, they have said:

  • Sinn Féin “believes in importance of education” and that the Stormont House Agreement delivered an additonal £500m for shared education
  • They wish to ensure the construction of an adequate number of schools and universities and the training and employment of the teachers/lecturers needed in these educational centres

Plaid Cymru

Three seats currently, expected to win three

In possession of three seats in parliament and one of the most charming accents in the union (except for the lyrical tones of the Northern Irish, of course), Plaid Cymru is in fact a political party from Wales and not a type of fabric suited to making Catholic schoolgirl uniforms.

They’ve stated:

  • Plaid Cymru are committed to supporting Welsh students studying in Welsh universities
  • The party believes that students studying subjects like medicine should pay lower or no tuition fees

Social Democratic & Labour Party

Three seats currently, expected to win three

Another Norn Irish party that missed out on the televised debates, the SDLP have only made the following promise in regard higher education:

  • To support and fund the further development of our universities and press the Executive to raise the Maximum Student Numbers (MaSN) cap

UK Independence Party

-Two seats currently, expected to win one

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The favourite of vaguely racist, older relatives up and down the country, UKIP’s Nigel Farage is either a divisive traditionalist or Sacha Baron Cohen’s newest parody. His party wants to see:

  • Students from EU nations will pay the same tuition fee rate as international students
  • The removal of tuition fees for students taking approved degrees in science, medicine, technology, engineering and maths (subject to academic performance). This will be awarded on the condition students work and pay tax in the UK for 5 years after graduation

UKIP has stated that they would ideally like to increase the personal tax allowance to £13,500, the highest proposed by any party.

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Green

One seat currently, expected to win one

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So. Much. Green.

The Aussie-lead Green party has come under some fire of recent due to leader Natalie Bennett’s radio interview, which proved to be the most difficult to listen to radio broadcast since Jonathan Ross’ Sachsgate disaster.

The Green’s manifesto (printed on what I can only assume is organic, ethically sourced, recycled, gluten-free paper) promises:

  • The Green Party would eliminate tuition fees and reintroduce student grants to cover living costs
  • Properly fund higher education institutions (HEIs) meaning fees for international students’ more accurately reflect the actual cost of their attendance
  • The Green Party will encourage HEIs to work toward sustainable living.
  • Higher education will offer real support to mature students and students with families e.g. creches, nappy changing facilities

If you think any of these policies are worth voting for – or even if you just want to stick it to Russell Brand’s moronic “don’t vote” mantra – then register to vote here.

You can do it online now because parliament has finally gotten around to upgrading to Windows 98.

 *Based on figures electionforecast.co.uk

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