Jeremy Corbyn: Labour could write off historic student debts

Posted On: 
1st June 2017

Students who have already paid £9,000 a year in university tuition fees could have their debts cleared under a Labour government, Jeremy Corbyn has revealed.

Labour has already pledged to scrap tuition fees and restore maintenance grants
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader said he wanted to help those who had the “historical misfortune” of starting a degree after fees were tripled in 2012.

Labour has already pledged to scrap tuition fees if it wins the election, including for students starting courses this year, and restore maintenance grants. The total bill would be £11.2bn.

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But asked whether he could try to clear the £30bn backlog of student debt since the higher fees were introduced, the Labour leader said he would like to.

“Yes, there is a block of those that currently have a massive debt, and I'm looking at ways we could reduce that, ameliorate that, lengthen the period of paying it off, or some other means of reducing the debt burden,” he told the NME.

But he added: “I don't have the simple answer for it at this stage. I don't think anybody would expect me to, because this election was called unexpectedly.
“We had two weeks to prepare all of this – but I'm very well aware of that problem.

“And I don't see why those that had the historical misfortune to be at university during the £9,000 period should be burdened excessively compared to those that went before or those that come after. I will deal with it.”

Respected thinktank the Institute for Fiscal Studies said about student debt in May: “One option would be to compensate these students by clearing or reducing their tuition fee debts.

“This would be extremely costly, however, as the outstanding stock of loans for these graduates is around £30bn.”