This is the news every young person starting university this autumn has been hoping for. The decision ordinary people instinctively know is right.
The one Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters could feel was coming.
In news just released, Labour has announced that it will lift a £38 billion debt burden from students’ shoulders – starting with the ending of tuition fees immediately after the election, not just in 2018/19.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner will formally announce on Monday that 400,000 university students will be freed from an average of around £27,000 debt this autumn if Labour is elected next month, not just from 2018.
Tuition fees will be abolished from 2018 under a Labour Government – this is the earliest that legislation could be completed and enacted. But Labour is also pledging to write off the first year of fees for students planning to start university this September, so nobody about to start university this year will lose out.
Labour’s package lifting debt totalling £38bn from the backs of students will be completed over the course of the next parliament. This forms part of Labour’s fully-costed £48.6bn annual spending plan.
18-year-olds sitting their A levels this summer – and their parents – now have yet another reason to register to vote before tonight’s (22 May) midnight deadline and to vote Labour on 8th June. Students already at university will also save hugely going forward, paying no fees for the remaining years of their course.
Tuition fees have trebled to over £9,000 a year since 2012 and graduates are being held back by starting their working lives saddled with debts averaging almost £45,000.
As well as abolishing university tuition fees, Labour will restore the maintenance grants the Conservatives abolished in 2016 and, under its transformative plan for a free National Education Service, will scrap college fees for adult learners.
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, said:
The Conservatives have held students back for too long, saddling them with debt that blights the start of their working lives. Labour will lift this cloud of debt and make education free for all as part of our plan for a richer Britain for the many not the few.
We will scrap tuition fees and ensure universities have the resources they need to continue to provide a world-class education. Students will benefit from having more money in their pockets, and we will all benefit from the engineers, doctors, teachers and scientists that our universities produce.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:
Labour believes everyone should have the chance to further their studies, not just those that can afford it, and we will restore the principle that education is free. No one should be put off from getting an education through a lack of money or fear of debt.
The Tories trebled tuition fees and students now rack up an average £45,000 debt. A Labour Government will stop that. If students sitting their A levels now want a say on their future they need to register to vote before tonight’s deadline and vote Labour on 8 June.
The announcement will sow panic among an Establishment already reeling from Labour’s surge in popularity and May’s disastrous campaign compared to the ‘rock star’ reception Corbyn receives everywhere he goes, especially among the young people who constitute most of the 2 million+ people who have registered to vote since 18 April.
The Establishment media will no doubt attack this decision from the first moment, calling it unachievable, unsustainable and unrealistic. But in fact it’s a move of bold but entirely-grounded economic sense.
Lifting the debt burden from students will revitalise an economy that the Tories have called successful but which is working for only the elite – if they can spend their money on things that raise GDP instead of on repaying a loan and interest, it will multiply across the whole economy.
It will free young people to study and give Britain the expertise and skills it needs to build a strong and fair society more than able to compete on the world stage.
It will allow nurses and other health-workers to qualify to staff our NHS knowing they can afford to live and won’t be crushed by debt for the next thirty years, allow those who will be great teachers to become them without fear of the cost.
And it will free graduates to buy homes, start families and thrive – and pay taxes – strengthening the fabric of a society that had become threadbare and torn in just seven years under of Tory and Tory-led government.
It will restore the United Kingdom to a position of leadership in the world as an example of what can be done – with the right leaders, the right priorities, the right will.
Those who call it unsustainable or unrealistic will be doing so out of a lack of vision or a subservience to other interests.
But we know better – and so will millions of young voters going to the ballot boxes on 8 June.
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