“We will build a country for the many, not the few.”
Still unsure on who to vote for on the 8th of June? If you are a student in Further Education, Higher Education or an Apprentice, here are 6 reasons why you should consider voting Labour. Read more to learn about their plans to support your studies, your teachers and facilities.
If you are interested in learning more about Labour’s policies on education, read Chapter 3, pages 33-43, in their manifesto. In addition, you can read more about the Conservatives’ polices on page 48 in their manifesto.
NATIONAL EDUCATION SERVICE (NES)
Labour believe we all benefit from a stronger economy and society when we invest in education and skills. They believe that everybody should have the opportunity to access education, making it a right and not a privilege. They plan to create a National Education Service, similar to the NHS, which will incorporate all forms of education supporting every child and every adult.
REINTRODUCE NHS BURSARIES
The Conservative government abolished the NHS bursary system in 2015, affecting healthcare students including midwifery, nursing, medics and dentists. These healthcare students not only have academic studies but also work on placement for around 39-48 weeks of the year, more hours than any other subject in higher education. Due to the cuts in funding, the number of applicants for subjects like Nursing has decreased by 23% (see here for statistics). It is the government’s duty to invest and support the healthcare professionals through their education and career, as we all rely on our healthcare service at some point in our lives.
ABOLISH HIGHER EDUCATION TUITION FEES
Most University courses charge £9,000 per year, which is the maximum amount. This fee has to be repaid after students graduate and earn over £21,000 a year, charging 9% of their income. Student Finance will charge interest (at a current rate of 4.6% expecting to rise to 6.1%) on student loans as soon as they make their first payment. Students in England will graduate with more debt than anywhere else in the English-speaking world. The Conservatives passed legislation in April making tuition fees rise every year until 2020 with inflation. Thankfully, Labour will abolish higher education tuition fees, giving the opportunity for people from all backgrounds to study. An estimated £4bn a year is lost due to tax avoidance (HMRC), so if the government cut down on tax avoidance schemes, enough money will be generated to abolish HE tuition fees.
REINTRODUCE MAINTENACE GRANTS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
Higher education students may receive the original Maintenance Loan (up to £3,653) as well as the a higher amount option (up to £2,237) depending on their household income, which are both repayble (Student Finance, 2017). The Conservatives cut the Maintenance Grant (up to £3,482, not repayable), which initially supported the students from low income households, and has replaced it with more loans. Student accommodation is not cheap, yearly rent can range from £4000 – £6000+, depending on where you live. A Maintenance Loan can barely cover rent, making most students rely on their family’s income or working alongside their studies. The struggle to study and the fear of debt (around £44,000) is preventing people from higher education. Labour will reintroduce maintenance grants for university students, giving everyone the opportunity to study. (Loan figures are given in my personal student finance account, read more about new full-time students.)
NEW EDUCATION MAINTENANCE ALLOWANCE (EMA)
The government scrapped Education Maintenance Allowance in England in 2010 and replaced them with bursary funds. Most Further Education students use their EMA to cover transport costs, books essential to the course and other materials. The funding offered to students today is dictated by the college, depending on where the person lives and their situation, rather than just supporting all students. EMA was given to 16-19 year old students in Further Education (FE) from low income backgrounds, which has been replaced with a new bursary scheme. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland still provide EMA for FE students, although it has been reduced. Labour will provide a new and improved Education Maintenance Allowance, that is fairer and offers more support to the most deprived backgrounds. This will ensure they can access education, which is a right not a privilege determined by the individual’s family income.
MORE FUNDING FOR FURTHER AND ADULT EDUCATION
The Conservatives have cut funding for Further Education (FE) colleges over the years and reduced entitlements for adult learners, which has decreased the amount of courses available and FE students. Labour will introduce free education in FE colleges, increase the amount of teachers in the FE sector and invest in the college’s facilities. The party will ensure that the money is distributed fairly across all colleges in the country and extend support for training for teachers in the private sector. Read more in Labour’s manifesto, pages 39-40.
Not every subject is taught in FE or HE education, Apprenticeships allow students to study and work, whilst earning the Apprentice hourly minimum wage (£3.50, 2017). Labour support the Apprenticeship levy, giving employers more flexibility for how it is deployed. They plan to protect the £440 million funding for small employers who do not pay the levy and increase the apprenticeships for people with disabilities as well as veterans and care leavers. In addition to this, they will reverse the cuts to Unionlearn. Read more in Labour’s manifesto, pages 40-41.
Labour have a fully costed manifesto and the Conservatives do not. Most European countries offer free or cheap education and still support their students and teachers, Labour believe Britain can do the same. If we invest in the educational opportunities for a variety of learners from all backgrounds, we will produce more skilled British citizens and create a stronger economy. Remember, read the manifestos for yourself, watch the interviews, and most importantly, vote on the 8th of June!
Written by Amy Smithers.