Corbyn’s pledge to scrap tuition fees isn’t heroic, it’s idiotic
It’s nothing more than a desperate plea for votes
Tuition fees were introduced by the Labour party in 1998 as a means of supplementing the costs of a university education. That means for new and current students at university, there has never been a time when we have expected it to be free. And in my opinion rightly so.
Going to university solely benefits students. It improves our future opportunities. Why shouldn’t we have to pay for it ourselves? If you commit to higher education, you’ve made the conscious decision that the benefits of having a degree outweighs its associated debt. Our tuition fees also give us access to first class lecturers and professors, specialist facilities and world class resources. Yes, current tuition fees are excessive and they definitely need to be decreased, but scrapping them completely could have a damaging impact on the future of education.
Labour’s main motive for scrapping tuition fees is to encourage more people from all backgrounds to have the same access to higher education. However, whilst the number of applications would increase we could actually see a decrease in success rate for UK students getting into university.
A recent study found that Scottish students (who get free university education) only have a university offer rate of 50% compared to applicants from the rest of the UK (56-58%) and international students (63%). Scrapping tuition fees could actually put UK students at a disadvantage against international peers who would be seen as more valuable to universities and therefore more likely to get offers. We could see the reintroduction of student caps as a way of managing the influx of applications while sustaining government funding.
Corbyn’s pledge to get rid of tuition fees is, when you think about it, pretty redundant. Tuition fees should not stop people from low income families going to university. Our loan system means we don’t see our debt until we are earning enough money to pay it back in small instalments. What does prevent low income applicants from going to university, though, is removing maintenance grants.
This is the real problem students face, and Corbyn has, to his credit, also addressed it. Yes, he is pledging to bring back grants but it is a pathetic attempt to convince students to vote for him while not really dealing with our main struggle: LIVING COSTS. A combination of ever increasing accommodation prices and cuts to maintenance grants makes university increasingly less accessible to low income families. And what about improving the communication with young people from disadvantaged schools so they are aware of the loan systems we have in place to help them through university?
It’s irresponsible for students to believe we deserve £11.2bn to make our lives slightly easier when every day we hear about crises across the country that could use the same money better. I think we can all agree that extra funding towards the NHS, social care, food banks and housing would benefit the many and not the few. I therefore wonder whether this expensive promise is just a bribe to get votes off a powerful, but previously inactive, segment of the electorate.
Being a student myself I understand the desperation to grasp onto any pledge regarding our university education. Time after time we have had to deal with broken promises from party leaders. But I fear that our anger has clouded our vision of the real problems in our country. Unfortunately they aren’t tuition fees.