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Student Fees and the NUS Pledge

There is rightly a debate about the signing of the NUS pledge by Lib Dem MPs, including myself, and what happens now about the Browne Report and any subsequent proposals.

The pledge said:
“I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative”

It is clear from that pledge that the objective is to have "a fairer alternative". The question, therefore, is whether the government's proposals are, indeed, a fairer alternative.

The test is whether they have moved from being effectively a tuition loan to what is a capped progressive graduate tax (or graduate contribution).

I am still not sure that they are progressive enough and have raised this with the government, but in defence of the proposals:

a) Up front fees are scrapped for part time students - this is important.
b) 30% of graduates pay less under the Browne proposals than under Labour's proposals.

The proposals are far more progressive than Labour's. If the option of a penalty free up front payment or advance is taken away then they become a taxation system rather than a fees system particularly given that different people pay different amounts depending upon their income.

However, more work needs to be done.

Comments

Red Rag said…
That is the biggest political cop out ever. The pledge did two things. "Vote against a rise in tuition fees" AND "pressute the government to introduce a fairer alternative"...that is an alternative to tuition fees.

If you can hide a broken pledge behind a play on words, it shows the Tories really are rubbing off on your party.

PS Cameron and Osborne cheering enthusiastically and back slapping and shaking Vince Cables hand after his speech on the broken pledge has got to be the Lib Dems lowest ebb in the coalition.....up to now.
Mike said…
It really is shameful that the Liberal Democrats should be so disingenuous. To pledge no increase in fees, but then suggest that an increase in fees is what was really intended as a "fairer altenative" is outrageous.

Liberal Democrats will be punished in the local elections next May. In the next door constituency (Solihull) three Lib Dem councillors have already left the Liberal Democrat group.
Pensfold said…
The Lib Dems should plead guilty to breaking their pledge.

However, they can justify doing so by coming up with a better (if more complicated) solution.

Lib Dems should own up to Lord Browne coming up with the better scheme after having spent a long time investigating his more complicated options.

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