Labour promises to write off student fees from this autumn

22 May 17

Labour has promised to write off the student fees of any university starters this autumn as part of its bid to lift £38bn worth of debt from student’s shoulders.

The party has clarified tuition fees would be abolished for people starting their courses this year, to deter anyone who was thinking of deferring their place until 2018 – if Labour won the election.

Labour’s manifesto pledge was to abolish tuition fees from 2018 – for those part way through their course – which it calculates would reduce student debt by £38bn if fees rise to £9,250.

Labour claim the £9.5bn annual cost of abolishing tuition fees would be paid for by increasing corporation tax, and income tax for people earning over £80,000.

As laid out in its manifesto, Labour are committed to restoring the maintenance grants the Conservatives abolished in 2016.

It argues tuition fees have held graduates back by starting their working lives “saddled” with debts averaging almost £45,000.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, said: “We will scrap tuition fees and ensure universities have the resources they need to continue to provide a world-class education.

“Students will benefit from having more money in their pockets, and we will all benefit from the engineers, doctors, teachers and scientists that our universities produce.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for education, said: “Labour believes everyone should have the chance to further their studies, not just those that can afford it, and we will restore the principle that education is free.

“No one should be put off from getting an education through a lack of money or fear of debt.

Labour also wants to establish a free National Education Service and scrap college fees for adult learners.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the teachers’ union the NUT, was in favour of scrapping the student loan system, which he said was “a disastrously bad way of funding higher education”.

“It asks school-leavers to commit themselves to 30 years of debt repayment at a rising rate of interest,” he added.

A Conservative spokesman said: “There are now more students from disadvantaged backgrounds getting into university than ever before."

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