Undergraduate fees aren't the most important issue, and Labour hasn't yet offered much for part timers and postgraduatesby Emran Mian / January 28, 2015 / Leave a comment
Speculation is mounting once more about Labour’s policy on higher education funding. This has happened two or three times over the last year. Labour may promise to reduce the cap on fees from £9,000 per year to £6,000; make an all-out move from fees to a graduate tax; or the Shadow Treasury team may say that there’s no money for either idea.
Affordability is certainly an issue. Unless Labour wants to reduce the funding universities have to provide teaching—and thereby bring a storm of student as well as establishment criticism upon their announcement—then any reduction in fee income will have to be made up by direct public funding. A graduate tax creates an even bigger hole in the public finances. Gordon Brown, always said to be uncomfortable with the “marketisation” of higher education, wanted to introduce one when he took over Number 10 but the Treasury he had just departed said no. The reason is that it may take a decade or more for graduate tax revenues to build up to the level of income universities have today; all the while government will be making up the difference.