Recently I have been paying over £100 a month back towards my student loan, and it’s great to have it finally paid off, but it’s taken me until the age of 30 to do so. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I earn above the national average salary, don’t have any dependents and, crucially, my loan was for living expenses only (1999-2002), not tuition fees.
So, my loan was approximately £10k.
Current students will have to pay back approximately £20k (£10k tuition fees plus £10k living expenses).
Under the system proposed by the coalition, graduates may have to pay back around £45k (£35k tuition fees plus £10k living expenses).
How long is this likely to take them? Well it all depends how much you earn and what happens to interest rates. But if it took me that long, it’s going to take the majority of graduates thirty plus years. This is at a time when many of them will be raising families, buying houses, etc.
I’m afraid I simply don’t accept that it’s fair to ask new graduates to pay back this huge amount of money while the rest of us, who were lucky enough to graduate under previous systems, get off scot free.
I appreciate that Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have been trying to make the Browne Report proposals fairer than the Tories would have done. However, they have done a huge disservice to the Liberal Democrats by giving the impression that they support the raise in tuition fees, despite having the abstention opt-out secured in the coalition agreement. This has dealt a massive blow to our credibility. Our policy remains that decided many years ago at conference, and confirmed repeatedly, most recently in the 2010 manifesto. We are against tuition fees as a way of funding higher education and want to phase them out.
Alan Bennett’s comment, made after the Labour Government introduced higher tuition fees in 2003, was right then and remains so now.
“A proper education should be free at the point of entry and the point of exit.”
(Preface to The History Boys, 2004)