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million+ responds to Labour Party’s announcement on university funding


3 min read Partner content

Professor Michael Gunn, Chair of the university think-tank million+ and Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University has welcomed the announcement by the Labour Party that it would reduce fees from 9000 to 6000 and fully fund universities for the lifetime of the next Parliament.

The think-tank described the announcement as ‘a very welcome clarification of Labour’s higher education policy’ which had the potential to help part-time and older students and underpin the sustainability of the sector. The think-tank also said that the proposal to increase maintenance grants would be a boost for students and their families and was likely to promote participation in higher education.

­­­­­­­­Professor Michael Gunn, Chair of the university think-tank million+ and Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University said:

“This is a very welcome clarification from Labour. The commitment to fully fund universities for the lifetime of the next Parliament will provide an assurance to universities that they will not be short-changed if fees are reduced. The promise to improve maintenance grants is also good news for students and their families who face increasing challenges to manage the cost of living while they are studying.

 “A reduction in fees will undoubtedly encourage more people to study at university and has the potential to promote participation at postgraduate level where student numbers have plummeted since 2010. 

 “ The proposals also provide sufficient funding for Labour to invest in a new funding stream for translational research and underpin research capacity in all universities to boost growth and the work of universities with companies and small businesses, including in the creative industries.

“As a manifesto commitment this has the potential to be a good deal for universities and students alike, and one that would provide a sustainable basis for the future.”

“It also raises the bar for the other political parties. In particular, the Conservatives must flesh out in detail how they intend to fund universities after 2015. Students and universities need to know before the election whether or not their £9000 fee cap would be lifted, how additional student numbers would be paid for, if research funding will continue to be concentrated in a very small number of universities and whether the Conservatives would take a new approach to international students where numbers have fallen as  result of changes to the visa regime promoted by the Home Office.”

 Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of million+ said:

“In 2013, million+ and London Economics published research which showed that the 2012 higher education reforms would cost taxpayers more over time. 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. There is a strong case for all  parties to be more transparent about the real long-term economic costs and benefits of their higher education policies before the election.”