Much has been made on Nick Clegg’s U-Turn after breaking the Lib Dem pledge not to increase tuition fees. Here is a video where Nick Clegg says that he would never join a Conservative Government.
The Lib Dems have backed proposals that will lead to a rise in tuition fees. The £3,290 cap on fees is proposed to be removed meaning that top Universities will be allowed to double charges, cutting off access to top Universities for young people from lower and middle income families. This could increase charges for most universities by nearly £4,000 a year.
During the election campaign, key Lib Dem figures held up pledges to vote down any proposed rise to tuition fees. A few ministerial cars later and they are actually actively proposing the complete opposite and looking to remove the cap on tuition fees, which will inevitably raise them to unprecedented levels.
Barely begun to pay back my student debt and it is worrisome for a young person in Britain today to think about how we will get out of the vicious circle of debt. I finished University three years ago with a student debt of nearly £15,000 and my current account in overdraft. Now that I am working, I think it is a manageable debt. But the magnitude of debt that the Lib Dems and Tories are going to impose on young people is disheartening. If fees go up for top Universities to over £7,000 a year, taking into account living costs, young people could leave University with debts of up to £50,000; more than what many parents paid for their mortgages! For families where more than one child aspires to go to University, this is a devastating blow.
The Lib Dems and the Tories say that we must move away from an economy built on the foundations of debt. If this is the approach they wish to have for our banking system, why are they consigning young people to a lifetime of debt?
What Sarah Teather has said:
Under [Labour] Government plans, students will soon have to pay £3000 a year to attend university. The Lib Dems predict that students leaving university could find themselves with debts of £20,000. The Liberal Democrats have launched a nationwide petition against these unjust fees. The Lib Dems call on the Government to scrap tuition fees and abandon their plans for top-up fees. Students should not be burdened with huge debts!
Source: Sarah Teather’s website!
“Labour, backed by the Tories, are creating a university system where less well off people will be unable to attend. I believe this is completely wrong. I am proud that the Lib Dems are opposing ‘top up fees’ as well as fighting to abolish tuition fees.”
Source: Sarah Teather – calling for Tuition fees to be AXED altogether
“Fear of debt is a major obstacle for students wanting to take up university places. A Barclays Bank survey has predicted that by 2010 students could face debts of up to £30,000. This is totally unacceptable. These plans are likely to mean that many of our brightest students in Brent would no longer be able to afford a university entrance fees.”
Source: Sarah Teather
But for me, the worst thing about this is that the one group that will be ignored and not consulted on this is young people. People who were 16 or 17 at the time of the May 2010 election may be affected by the changes that the Lib Dems will enact on tuition fees. However, they did not vote for it because they were not allowed to.
I wonder if this solution would be pursued if young people had the right to vote. The solution is to lower the voting age to 16. Another principle the Lib Dems seem to have abandoned.
Another sensational U-turn from the Liberal Democrats. According to Left Foot Forward (LINK), the Lib Dems have sensationally voted down a Parliamentary amendment to lower the voting age to 16 for the referendum on the voting system, despite promising to give 16-year-olds the vote in their election manifesto.
It seems as though the Lib Dems are hell bent on savaging the rights and the services available for young people.
Before the election, Labour promised a free vote in Parliament on lowering the voting age to 16. The Lib Dems went further and said that they would lower the voting age. The Tories ignored the issue in their election manifesto.
The forthcoming referendum that is expected on changing the way elections are decided presents the best opportunity to lower the voting age. Why waste public resources by raising the issue again and following through a new and costly constitutional amendment process? Surely it would be easier to make these changes to our voting system from the outset.
Our Brent Central MP Sarah Teather has in the past supported lowering the voting age to 16. Her website says, “the Liberal Democrats are the only major political party to support the Votes at Sixteen campaign” and argued that “it would help demonstrate to young people that their opinions are valued and help reconnect with those who may otherwise may never vote. It still seems ludicrous to me that a person can work, get married and join the army in this country before they are allowed to vote” (Source: LINK).
Now in Government and presented with the opportunity to presented with the opportunity to change things for good, Sarah Teather’s options indicate that young people’s opinions are not valuable to her at all and that the Lib Dems have abandoned their pledge to connect and involve young people in the decisions like raising tuition fees, that will affect them.