PRESS RELEASE: Labour Caves to Student Pressure – But a Graduate Tax is Not Enough!

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Yesterday, Labour Party Higher Education Liam Byrne was quoted in the Sunday Times as willing to replace tuition fees with a graduate tax. This system would mean that all those who go to university , pay an extra portion of tax on top of that which they would normally pay, instead of receiving a student loan.

In a climate where nearly half of graduates will never pay off the entire amount that they owe, the Labour Party views a graduate tax as a more sustainable way of funding the Higher Education system, along with its proposed move to 6K fees.

The system of a graduate tax, however, has faced criticism from campaigning organisations, who argue that the current job market means it is more and more unlikely that those who graduate are higher earners, and that the prospect of an extra tax specifically for graduates, could deter future applicants as much as tuition fees. Furthermore, as a user contribution graduate tax deters from the message of education as a public service, which the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts argues should be publicly funded by progressive taxation.

Hattie Craig, National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts National Committee, said: “In a year where the student movement has reignited the fight for free education, Labour is cynically latching on to the clear want for a different funding system. However, it is not the funding system that we are asking for: we will not stop until we win free education, funded not by a graduate tax but by progressive taxation.”

Deborah Hermanns, NCAFC NC, said: “This move away from the current tuition fee regime shows that pressure from below really is working – we have to continue to fight for the education system we want to see. We will be marching for free education in Birmingham, the home territory of Liam Byrne, on March 28 and we hope he will listen to our demand for an education system which is truly free and funded by progressive taxation.”

Hannah Sketchley, NCAFC NC, said: “Labour is clearly just trying to woo the student voters, and this move shows that students can drive the education agenda. However, we can’t let ourselves be wooed by this one promise – Labour are still promoting an austerity agenda and slashing benefits, especially for the under 25s. ”

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