Theresa May: Workers would be hit by tax rises to pay for Labour’s free student fees policy

Posted On: 
19th February 2018

Workers would be hit with a major tax hike to pay for Labour's plan to scrap tuition fees, Theresa May has said. 

Theresa May launched a major review of university funding at a college in Derby today
Credit: 
BBC

The Prime Minister said it was "only fair" that those who benefited from going to university should pay for their courses.

Labour's election manifesto pledge to do away with tuition fees at a cost of £9.5bn played a huge part in boosting support for Jeremy Corbyn among young voters

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But speaking at a college in Derby as she launched a review of higher education funbding, Mrs May said it would force universities to compete with schools and hospitals for public funding, and would lead to a limit on the number of places on offer.

She said: "I believe – as do most people, including students – that those who benefit directly from higher education should contribute directly towards the cost of it. That is only fair.

"The alternative – shifting the whole burden of university tuition onto the shoulders of taxpayers as a whole – would have three consequences.

"First, it would inevitably mean tax increases for the majority of people who did not go to university, and who on average earn less than those who did.

"Second, it would mean our universities competing with schools and hospitals for scarce resources, which in the past meant they lost out, putting their international pre-eminence at risk.

"And third, it would mean the necessary re-introduction of a cap on numbers, with the Treasury regulating the number of places an institution could offer, and preventing the expansion which has driven wider access in recent years."

The year-long review could see the cost of arts and social science courses reduced, and a cut in interest rates on student loans.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: "Theresa May has finally admitted that her government got it wrong. They trebled tuition fees, abolished maintenance grants and left students graduating with debts of up to £57,000.

"This long-winded review is an unnecessary waste of time. Labour will abolish tuition fees, bring back maintenance grants and provide free, lifelong education in further education colleges."