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Tuition Fees and Higher Education Policy Announced


Comment from Paul Farrelly MP on Labour's policy announcement:


"Good news today! We've announced our higher education and tuition fees policy. I've been pressing for this for some time - but it's been important, of course, to make the figures add up, so universities don't suffer.


The bare-bones are this.... As well as the cut in fees, grants for people from less well-off families will go up by £400, benefiting more than half of students.


"The total cost of the fee cut is £2.7 billion, and universities will get this back through an increase to their Teaching Grant. It was this which the coalition slashed, while trebling fees to £9,000 after 2010.


"It will be funded by reducing pension tax relief for people earning over £150,000 to 20%, the same as basic rate taxpayers, and capping the tax free amount in pension funds at £1 million, down from the present £1.25 million."


Paul added, "If elected, Labour will legislate for this in the first year, meaning the new system will start in September 2016. The first step, I hope, on the way to a much fairer system - so no-one's deterred from getting the education they deserve!"


An analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that overall Labour's policy would "leave university finances largely unaffected in the short run" and "reduce government debt in both the short and long run".


Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the Million+ group of new universities, said lowering fees made "good economic sense" over the longer term. "A reduction in fees has the potential to save the Treasury and taxpayers' money because it will reduce student debt and more graduates are likely to repay their loans."


Labour leader Ed Miliband said, "The [current coalition] government has designed a system which is burdening students with debt today and set to weight down the taxpayer with more debt tomorrow. "This is a system that will have added an extra £16bn more than predicted to public debt by the end of the next Parliament. If left unchecked, the system will have added £281bn to debt by 2030.


"And much of this money will never be paid back. By the late 2040s, student loan write-offs will be hitting £21bn a year - almost double the entire cost of police services in England and Wales. It must go down as one of the most expensive broken promises in history."

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