Monday, September 28, 2009

Ken Livingstone rejects CBI’s proposals for an increase in tuition fees as “disastrous for the economy”

Last week (21/09/09) the Confederation of British Industry proposed that annual tuition fees should be increased to £5,000.

Ken Livingstone has rejected these proposals out of hand and supports the Free Education Campaign’s calls for a shift in government funding priorities, to ensure Britain can have the necessary, quality, free system of higher education required.

Ken Livingstone said:

"The Confederation of British Industry’s proposals for higher education should be rejected out of hand. Their calls for students to pay £5,000 annual tuition fees and for the scrapping of the target for half of young people to enter higher education would be disastrous for the economy as well as blighting the life chances of tens of thousands of young people.

We need to be taking steps to make Britain’s economy more successful with greater levels of long term growth. That is the way to deal with the current deficit not slash and burn policies that cut back on public services. Britain needs a highly skilled workforce to be successful in the global economy but is already falling behind many other countries in terms of university participation.

Greater investment in higher education is needed but rather than students and their families being burdened with further costs this should be funded progressively as part of the government’s overall economic priorities.

I support the Free Education Campaign’s calls that rather than wasting billions of pounds developing a new generation of nuclear weapons to replace Trident, introducing ID cards or sustaining a level of military spending well beyond Britain’s means, the government could invest funds in Higher Education. And as business is a key beneficiary from a highly skilled workforce, it should also make a fair contribution".

Please contact to find out more about how you can get involved with the Free Education Campaign or to add your name to the launch statement.

To join the debate about how we can end student debt and to read the Free Education Campaign launch statement please visit:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Student Leaders oppose the government’s suggestion to increase tuition fees to £7,000 a year

We totally oppose the government’s recent suggestion to increase tuition fees to £7,000 a year. Such a move would have disastrous consequences.

Current tuition fee levels already deter those from less well off backgrounds from Higher Education. Any increase would make this situation even worse.

Britain needs a highly skilled workforce to be successful in the global economy. Yet our current 43 per cent rate of university participation is lower than many other countries and will fall well short of the government’s own target of half of young people attending university by 2010.

This failure is a direct result of government funding polices that leave students with record debt levels, which deter many from entering Higher Education.

The government’s claim that this policy of shifting more and more of the costs onto individual students and their families was necessary to dramatically increase the proportion of young people in Higher Education is now completely exposed by the government's decision to freeze student numbers and, at the same time, consider increasing fees.

In reality, the whole of our society benefits from a more skilled work-force. Higher education should, therefore, be funded as part of the government’s overall economic priorities, rather than making students and their families bear the burden.

To suggest that Britain can't afford a necessary, quality, free system of higher education is simply wrong and reveals that the government has the wrong economic priorities. Rather than waste billions of pounds bailing out bank shareholders, maintaining a level of military spending far beyond the country's means (and much higher than Germany, for example, as a share of the economy), developing a new generation of nuclear weapons to replace Trident or bringing in costly ID cards the government should instead be expanding access to Higher Education, by reducing, not increasing, the cost to individual students. This would have massive long term economic benefits.

We, therefore, propose a united campaign of all students against any increase in tuition fees, in an alliance with the education unions and progressive opinion in wider society.

At the same time we will continue to argue for the abolition of fees and for a new free education funding system.

We reject proposals from some NUS leaders of replacing the current tuition fees system with a graduate tax, of up to 2.5%, payable for 20 years – which just replaces one form of debt with an even greater one. This strategy has failed to defend students and has contributed to a climate where ministers feel able to propose increasing fees to £7,000.

We propose:

1. A united campaign by the whole of NUS including a national demonstration, regional and local action against any increase in tuition fees.

2. A free education campaign, calling for the abolition of fees and for a new government policy to continue to expand Higher Education funded by a progressive system of taxation in which those individuals and companies with the highest incomes contribute most.

3. To campaign for the government to change its spending priorities to increase Higher Education funding, to cut military spending, abandon ID cards and other programmes which contribute nothing to economic prosperity and social welfare.

The NUS National Executive should lead a national campaign against any increase in fees and reject all proposals to increase the financial burden on individual students.

Daf Adley, NUS LGBT Officer (Open Place)

Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, NUS Black Students’ Officer

Saima Yousaf, NUS International Students’ Officer

Naa-anyima Quaye, NUS National Executive Committee

Khaled AlMudallal, Secretary-Treasurer, University of Bradford Union

Ian Drummond – Student & Respect Party National Council

Junaid Ejaz, President, University of Huddersfield Students’ Union

Gabriel Hassan, General Secretary, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Jennifer Okojie, NUS Women’s Committee

Saima Parveen, Disabled Students’ Rep, NUS Black Students’ Committee

Anil Joshua Sachdeo, NUS Black Students’ Committee

Rebecca Sawbridge – NUS, Mature Students’ Committee

To add your name to the statement please email: