Ben Howlett, National Chairman of Conservative Future, outlines his views on the Browne Review – not the best of news for students nationwide. Feel free to post your comments on what is sure to become a hot Young Academic topic….
Over the last 13 years of Labour we have seen the largest neglect of higher education of any government in post-war Britain. Yet again it has been left to the coalition to pick up the pieces of Labour’s shattered Britain and make the difficult decisions in the national interest.
Labour had 13 years to deal with the problems intrinsic within the system; however they failed to do so. Labour is split on this issue, with the Shadow Chancellor disagreeing with the Shadow Leader of the Opposition. We have been left with universities struggling to remain internationally competitive. The Browne review out today, commissioned by Labour, illustrates the mess that they have left us with.
This report proposes some difficult changes to the system, ones we must support given Labour’s failure. In an ideal world fees would not need to go up, however there is no other option but to increase them, something that the NUS also recognises. If only Labour recognised the need to reform the higher education sector earlier, the changes the Government must now make would not have to be as large.
By removing the cap and still contributing a loan of up to £7000, the government now has an opportunity to create world class education institutions that allow markets to improve educational quality for students, that can compete against universities across the world and can create a progressive system of education that ensures the poorest in society will not be priced out of the market.
We must support the progressive moves within the proposals that protect the poorest in society, including:
* The threshold of repayment being raised to £21k up from £15k as set by Labour
* Real interest rates on loans for better paid students
* Bringing in extra grants and loans for the poorest students
This is an issue not to play politics with. These are difficult decisions being made in the national interest. The proposals present an opportunity to progressively revolutionise the higher education sector while protecting the poorest. With these proposals we will once again have world class institutions of higher education.