“An investigation is underway into post 18 education, with speculation that some degrees could be cut to £6,500, whilst others, namely science, could be raised. Recent conversations have also focussed on the increasingly high pay of vice chancellors and other senior staff. Given the fact that UK universities are the most expensive in Europe, the question of abolishing tuition fees is never too far from the surface.”
"Regardless of how these events unfold, it has surely highlighted the perilous side effects of the marketisation of education, an issue which even industrial action of this scale cannot resolve." Megan Field explores the USS Strikes.
"So, is this a case of bureaucratic pencil-pushing or a genuinely ‘major review’ of tertiary education?" Joe Perry deconstructs Theresa May's speech on her plans for reviewing higher education in the UK.
Universities are a place for discovery, and with that comes an inevitable element of discomfort. Discourse challenges students’ existing opinions and can indeed be unsettling, but TalkPolitics holds it to be true that it is ultimately beneficial for both the individual and our community. When ideas clash and people challenge one another through rational debate, their inherent weaknesses and strengths become clear. From this, the good ideas can be sorted from the bad and social progress is achieved.
"He made every effort to distance himself from past comments, deleting a total of 40,000 tweets, yet fears remained that someone capable of articulating such opinions in the first place held values completely at odds with the task in hand." Read more here about the controversial decision to appoint Toby Young to the new university regular, and his subsequent resignation, here.
By Editor-in-Chief Cameron Broome
According to YouGov polling, 60 per cent of British adults are against ‘reducing the voting age to 16 for all UK elections.’ So what are the arguments for and against lowering the voting age? It’s a complex topic but here the issue shall be Put Simply.
- Can pay taxes at 16 so only fair they are given a say in how taxes are spent
- Tackling political apathy: by empowering young people and engaging them in politics, they might be more likely to vote in the future and remain politically active
- Have most to lose (and gain) from decisions; deserve role in shaping their future
- Influence of school teachers at 16/17; 18 year olds have the knowledge to understand current affairs but are more likely to have developed their own views
- Young people are more likely to be naïve and idealistic; by 18, individuals have enough life experience to make better informed judgements about the world
- Although young people will be most affected by decisions, many adults are parents/grandparents who will consider future generations when voting anyway
What political parties and their leaders think
Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party
- Generally voted against lowering the vote age (see specific voting record here)
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK Labour Party
- Generally voted for lowering the voting age (see specific voting record here)
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party (read more here)
- “My experience of visiting schools and chatting to young people has shown what a worthwhile cause this is. 16 and 17 year olds are as politically engaged and committed to making the difference as everyone else.”
- “I want the government to seriously look at Votes at 16 and see if we can give young people throughout the South Lakes the vote”
Paul Nuttall, United Kingdom Independence Party leader (read more here)
- “Sixteen-year-olds do not have enough life experience to make sound judgements when voting and consequently I am against reducing the age limit.”
- There is no doubt that young people should be encouraged to vote, after all today’s changes affect their tomorrows, but instead of lowering the age limit they should be properly educated about the relevance of politics to their lives,”
Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party (read more here)
- "Giving 16 and 17-year-olds the vote for the independence referendum is widely seen as having been a huge success, which added to the unprecedented democratic engagement of the campaign and the massive turnout”
- "We want to make sure those same young adults now have the chance to vote in the next Scottish Parliament election, and have their say on how the country should be run”
It's worth noting that individuals in parties will have different views on the issue. There is no singular view and above is merely a reflection of the general attitudes of political parties.
The EU referendum
This issue was particularly contentious during the EU referendum campaign where 16 and 17 year olds were denied a vote. Although views ultimately depend upon the individual, research suggests that young people were more likely to vote to remain in the referendum. Hence, with a narrow winning margin of 52 to 48 per cent, allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote could have altered the outcome of the EU referendum.
For many, the issue of tuition fees in the UK is a no-brainer. The Liberal Democrats rescinding on promises to fight against any rise in fees was a key factor in their electoral collapse in 2015, and the eventual decision by the coalition government to increase fees to £9,000 led to nationwide protests. For many, free education is an ideological red-line – but before you jump on the bandwagon, have you considered all the arguments? Read this #PoliticsPutSimply - #LetsTalkPolitics
AGAINST TUITION FEES
- Tuition fees increase inequality: when only the wealthiest can afford higher education, the wage gap gets worse and social classes grow more distant.
- Graduate debt accrued due to the tuition loans puts many off the idea of going to university and improving their life chances.
- The repayment scheme (debts are paid back over time, in amounts dependent on your income) is an economic disaster. The treasury loses millions due to it already – why don’t we just scrap the fees altogether?
- The “free-market” concept doesn’t work with education, as prices aren’t pushed down – there is no financial competition. For further info on this point: http://publicuniversity.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Reason6.pdf
FOR TUITION FEES
- Tuition fees actually decrease inequality, not increase it as claimed. ‘Free’ tuition places must be rationed, whereas places secured by tuition fees mean that there isn’t a cap on the amount of students an institution can accept.
- Tuition fees allow universities to escape a dependence on central government. This allows them to be more creative, implement teaching curriculums they wish to implement, and generally allow academics and lecturers to escape from the confines of governmental control.
- In England – universities must spend a third of each student’s £9,000 on disadvantaged students. In Scotland, where tuition is free for domestic students, far less is spent on helping the needy attend higher education – in 2010, only £10.4 million.
- Tuition fees allow universities to be research institutions, make academic progress, and provide better standards of teaching for students.
- You can read more in favour here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/politics-blog/11697260/Why-tuition-fees-are-good-for-you.html
For further information, see this BBC report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-30080662