Labour Party education pledges – tuition fees & early years

A draft of Labour’s general election manifesto has been leaked, including plans to scrap tuition fees.

Expert analysis of the possible Labour Party pledge on university tuition fees from Professor Anna Vignoles, Faculty of Education and Jesus College, University of Cambridge:

“University tuition fees were introduced for two main reasons.¬†First, when the state paid, university places were limited in number. This meant that more people wanted to go to university than could go and students from poorer backgrounds who had lower grades at A level were most likely to miss out on the opportunity to study at university. By getting graduates to contribute to the cost, more students have got to go to university, including more students from poor backgrounds.

Second, since students from wealthier homes do better at school they are over represented in universities. With state funding for degrees, lower earning tax payers are paying for the higher education of the children of wealthier parents. Indeed tax payers are subsidising those who will then go on to be the highest earners in our society. It would be better to use scarce state funding to invest more heavily in pre school and compulsory schooling to try improve the achievement of poor children and hence improve their chances of going to university.

The indications are that Labour will also invest more in the earlier years of schooling and properly targeted this might indeed help improve the achievement of the poorest children in our society, which would be welcome.”

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