Our Stance on Tuition Fees
University tuition fees remains one of the Liberal Democrat Party's key focus points, and the section of the Party manifesto that discusses our position regarding university fees has been formulated following widespread consultation with organisations representing both students and universities.
Peter Coley, the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Leicester West, explains "It remains the policy of the Liberal Democrats to scrap tuition fees for all students undertaking their first undergraduate level degree. We believe it is right both in principle and in practice to scrap the tuition fee model of part-financing for higher education. In addition, we think it is only fair that part and full-time students should be treated equally, whatever the system, when studying for their first degree. The Liberal Democrats will therefore also abolish fees for part-time students studying for a first undergraduate level degree."
"This does not mean that Universities will lose funding: the income they currently receive as a result of fees will continue to be paid by the government. Although the Liberal Democrats remain committed to this policy we have had to be realistic about the state of the UK's deficit after Gordon Brown's failure to steer this country successfully through the recession. The economic downturn has seriously constrained the spending options of any future government. As such, Nick Clegg announced in January 2010 that whilst our Party retains its pledge to abolish tuition fees, we would have to do so over a six-year time frame."
"We would start this process by ceasing to charge a fee for the final year of study. This means that all undergraduates from the start of the 2010 academic year would be better off when they graduate. We will then regulate part time fees and put them on the same deferred basis as full time students. Over the remaining period we would work through the entire student cohort, removing fees for penultimate year students and then, when resources allow, for students in their first year of study."
"We remain strongly committed to reforming the Higher Education funding system. This compromise position is the politically, and financially, responsible approach to take at this time. Our ambition remains clear and we have a clear plan to phase out tuition fees."
"The reasoning for our retaining this commitment to scrapping tuition fees is simple: the Liberal Democrats believe that a student's potential should not be limited by their ability to pay. Taking maintenance loans and fee loans together, many students will be starting their working lives with a debt of over £20,000. This is unacceptable and unsustainable, particularly given the current level of graduate unemployment."
"Labour and the Conservatives are content to hide behind Lord Browne's Higher Education Funding Review, because they know that their policies will not be popular. The Government has deliberately set the timetable of the review so that no conclusion will be reached until after the 2010 general election. Labour has admitted that they communicated with the Conservatives over the composition and remit of the review, which amounts to a collusion between the two parties over the issue. We believe that students and their parents deserve better than this, which is why the Liberal Democrats are offering clear proposals for higher education in our general election manifesto."