Be Right Back
So, I’ll be back turned out to mean “give it a month or so”
Ok, to begin.
Across the board students are upset the Conservative Party made it into Govt. Originally, the fear was simply about the perceived image of the Conservatives. Now, with student numbers being cut and a swathe of cuts across the board, with the HE sector being hit the hardest, it seems there was indeed cause for fear. There was always a fear that with a Conservative govt tuition fees would be increased. Now this is an almost certainty.
The Liberal Democrats campaigned on the idea that they were against tuition fees, and were happy to sign the NUS pledge against such. Claiming they would vote against any increase in tuition fees, students were quite happy to vote for them. And now they renege on their promise to do this, the Liberal Democrats will now abstain from any such vote.
Those of you who read my blogs will remember Ed Davey’s response on this. I emailed him again in May querying his party’s wish to renege on their promise. My email is below:
“Dear Ed Davey,
First of all, we at Kingston University Students’ Union would like to congratulate you on your re-election. And congratulate the Liberal Democrats for getting into government. Our students were more than happy to vote for you based on your stated commitment to students and voting against any increase in tuition fees.
According to the Coalition agreement the Liberal Democrats will be allowed to abstain from any vote against an increase in tuition fees. This of course, is in direct contradiction to the promise that was made to students by your party.
Students are now, understandably, exceptionally unhappy that the Liberal Democrats appear to be reneging on the promise made to students. The students at Kingston University now want your assurance that you will not go back on your word and that you will indeed vote against any increase on tuition fees.
We look forward to hearing from you.
“I am sorry for the delay in responding to your email.
Liberal Democrats did campaign on a pledge that during the next parliament (so 5 years), we would hope to abolish student fees. Unfortunately, Liberal Democrats did not win enough seats to form a government and have had to make compromises.
I can assure you that this is a very difficult compromise for me and my colleagues to make. Yet when I consider that the alternative to making a deal with the conservatives for a coalition was either a conservative minority government, untempered by Liberal Democrats. I’m not sure if any of you where alive in the 80s but your parents will remember how the Tory party decimated higher education and I for one am not prepared to see that happen again. Furthermore, given the instability that would have ensued with a minority government the economy would have been in an even worse position.
As I’m sure you know the Coalition have agreed to wait the findings of the Browne Review before determining a position on fees and higher education funding. If the Conservatives do want to go ahead with raising tuition fees Liberal Democrats would abstain. Now by abstaining the conservatives would need to make sure that ALL of there mps supported the move to get it through – that is if the Labour Government oppose it.
I hope this gives some further information on this critical issue.
All the best,
My problem with the above isn’t simply that compromises must be made. Compromises are a fact of life. But the Liberal Democrats, in “getting into bed” with the Conservatives have completely shattered any credibility they might have had in the first place. During the elections they claimed to be the party to vote for if we didn’t want the Conservatives in Govt. And students in their droves went out to vote for the Liberal Democrats, only to find that it meant voting for what can only be called a Conservative Government
The email from Ed Davey was sent before the announcements of 25% cuts to HE. Since then Vince cable announced his proposition of a graduate tax. Only a few days after this was announced, senior Conservatives stated that the plan was rejected by government. Of course, this Graduate tax plan is simply a chance for the Liberal Democrats to say “hey look, we kept our promise” even though it looks very much like simply a rebranding exercise.
Our Vice Chancellor, Sir Peter Scott, makes his feelings abundantly clear in his article for The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jul/20/graduate-tax-illogical-universities
NUS president, Aaron Porter, also voices his opinion on the proposed Graduate Tax here: http://www.nus-connect.org/blogs/blog/aaronporter/2010/07/16/Graduate-tax-the-devils-in-the-detail/
I’m very very keen to hear your views on this. So please feel free to comment.
Nevertheless, now we wait with bated breath to see what our Government will do to the UK Higher Education system. The Funding Review is due to report back in Autumn. Watch this space.