Worcester News Article

Worcester is rightly proud of its increasingly successful university, so the debate about the future funding of higher education really matters to the whole county.

Students have been protesting about the government’s proposals to raise university tuition fees. Last week it came to a head when MPs voted on the proposals in parliament. Unsurprisingly I have had many representations from my constituents who are deeply concerned. Each letter has been interesting and has made good points. Whilst I have been struck by people’s concerns about the rise in university tuition fees, what surprised me the most was that no one has been able to come up with a viable alternative.

As far as I can see the only alternative to higher fees would be to reduce the numbers of students at each university. This would exclude a huge number of students who deserve the opportunity to further their education. The Labour Party support a graduate tax which would mean that poorer graduates would pay more and richer graduates would pay less which is neither fair nor progressive.

I am concerned that many people aren’t aware of the facts so here are the main points:

• Myth 1: I don’t have £9000 so now I can’t go to university
oNo one going to university will have to pay anything up front.

• Myth 2: I won’t be able to repay the debt
oYou don’t have to pay anything back until you start to earn over £21,000 a year. If you lose your job, or your earnings drop below £21,000, you won’t have to make any repayments.

• Myth 3: I’d be better off under the old system
oEveryone will have to pay back about £45 less a month.

• Myth 4: I’ll be paying off the debt forever
oAny outstanding debt will be written off after thirty years.

• Myth 5: Tuition fees aren’t fair
oGraduates earn, on average, at least £100,000 more over their lifetimes than non-graduates, so it’s fair that you can contribute towards your education.

• Myth 6: The poor won’t be able to go to universities
oThere are no upfront fees and the new system will also give more assistance to poorer students.

The Chief Executive of Universities UK wrote urging MPs to vote for the rise in tuition fees since they believe that ‘raising the fee cap is something that no one relishes but it is part of that sustainable funding settlement.’

I honestly believe that future generations of young people will respect our decisions. The plans will make the student more powerful. This means that universities will focus on giving students better value for money through their courses. Students will be able to demand better teaching and more relevant courses.

I am sure Worcester University will flourish in this new world where students have more power.

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