Thursday, May 13, 2010

Standing Up For Students

Looking at the fine detail of the coalition agreement one thing that did strike me was the omission of any agreement to increase tuition fees. Indeed what there was is a rather woolly statement.

Higher education

We await Lord Browne’s final report into higher education funding, and will judge its proposals against the need to:
  • increase social mobility;

  • take into account the impact on student debt;

  • ensure a properly funded university sector;

  • improve the quality of teaching;

  • advance scholarship; and,

  • attract a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
If the response of the Government to Lord Browne’s report is one that Liberal Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements will be made to enable Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain in any vote.

Therefore it was with relieve that I saw the following amendment to our special conference debating the coalition deal from Liberal Youth.

Conference expresses its concern that Liberal Democrat MPs who signed the 'vote for students' pledge may be unable to uphold this pledge under the abstention agreement on the Lord Browne report in the 'Higher Education' section of the agreement for a coalition government and expresses its hope that Liberal Democrat MPs can vote against any rise in the cap on tuition fees which isn't index linked.

Conference calls upon Liberal Democrat MPs to ensure that on any decision made on the Lord Browne report, they above all else take into account the impact on student debt.

Conference affirms our aspiration to scrap tuition fees.

Conference also affirms that any vote on tuition fees should not be held as a vote of confidence in the government.

Liberal Youth are incredibly worried that a whole generation of young people from lower-income backgrounds will be shut out of university education all-together if we see even higher tuition fees. Therefore, Liberal Youth are asking you to support this amendment, to reaffirm our stance on tuition fees, and force our ministers to fight for lower fees in the cabinet and allow our MPs to oppose such measures in the commons.

I fully support it, not only does it respect the idea of the new politics and the coalition that we have entered into, but it also allows our parliamentary party who along with myself and many more of our candidates all signed the 'vote for students' pledge.

I have signed their petition in support of this motion and would encourage you to do likewise and if you are attending on Sunday to speak in support and vote for it.

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