YOUNG VOICES

Where Do Labour, The Conservatives And The Liberal Democrats Stand On Tuition Fees?

Everything you need to know before the General Election.

11/05/2017 15:02 BST

Labour will abolish tuition fees if it is elected on June 8, a leaked draft of the party’s manifesto has revealed. 

The news could further boost the party’s popularity among students - a poll released last week found that 55% of undergraduates will vote for Labour, while the Lib Dems have slipped behind the Tories in popularity thanks to their 2010 U-turn on fees. 

With tuition fees set to be a major factor for young voters, we take a look at each of the main political parties and their stance on the issue. 

Labour Party  

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Labour has pledged to abolish tuition fees 

A leaked draft of the Labour manifesto last night revealed that the party will abolish university tuition fees and bring back student maintenance grants if elected. 

Jeremy Corbyn promised to get rid of university fees during the 2015 Labour leadership election, when he set out a £10 billion plan to fund university education with increases to higher corporation tax and a 7% rise in national insurance for those earning more than £50,000 a year.   

But it was under Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1998 that tuition fees were first introduced in the UK. 

Proposals to charge students for a university education led to deep divisions within the party and many Labour MPs - including Corbyn - voted against the plan. 

However, the change was pushed through and universities began to charge UK students £1,000 a year in tuition fees.

Devolution in 1999 meant Scotland and Wales brought in their own tuition fee policy, but fees were further increased under Labour to £3,000 in England in 2004. 

Conservative Party 

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Theresa May said tuition fees would 'remain' under a Tory government 

Tuition fees will “remain” in England under a Conservative government, it has been reported.

The Tories controversially increased tuition fees to £9,000 in 2010 along with the Lib Dems, leading to wide-spread student protests. The rise was implemented in 2012. 

The party also recently pushed through the new Higher Education and Research Bill, which will allow universities to increase tuition fees in line with inflation every year until 2020. 

The first increase will happen in September 2017, when students will start to pay £9,250 a year in tuition. 

Millions of students and graduates will also have pay more interest on their student loans, with rates soaring up to 6.1% thanks to a post-Brexit slump in the pound.  

The rise of almost a third, based on the retail price inflation figure (RPI), comes despite the fact high street personal loans are available with interest rates as low as 2.8%.   

Liberal Democrats 

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The Lib Dems caused huge controversy in 2010 with their tuition fee U-turn 

The Liberal Democrats have yet to announce their stance on tuition fees during this election. 

The party caused widespread controversy in 2010 when, despite pledging to oppose tuition fee increases, the Lib Dems supported a move that saw university fees rise to £9,000 a year under the coalition.  

While current Lib Dem leader Tim Farron voted against the bill, a recent poll of undergraduates found that many students have yet to forgive the party for its U-turn. 

Research found that the Conservative party is now the second most-popular among students after Labour, despite the fact the Lib Dems regularly enjoyed a 30% to 40% of the student vote pre-2010. 

UKIP 

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UKIP think tuition gees should be abolished - but only for 'able' students 

According to the UK Independence Party website, UKIP believe tuition fees should be scrapped - but only for “able students” pursuing courses in the sciences, technology, maths or medicine. 

Leader Paul Nuttall also called for the government to scrap its target of 50% of school leavers going to university. 

Green Party  

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Caroline Lucas and the Green Party think tuition fees should be scrapped altogether 

The Green Party has pledged to scrap tuition fees, saying that they put “so many off from studying for a degree”. 

The party has also vowed to reinstate the Education Maintenance Grant, which was scrapped by George Osbourne in 2015. 

The grant, worth around £3,500 and offered to students from low income backgrounds, was replaced with additional loans to be paid back at the end of their degrees.