Once again the Tories throw students under the bus

A student fees protest banner
Support us and go ad-free

The government just refused to budge on a crucial issue for university students. It is one that has been at the forefront of political debate for nearly a decade, although the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has driven the problem home. Yet still, the Tories are refusing to act to rectify an appalling situation.

Tuition fees: always in the spotlight

University students have been paying tuition fees since 1998 when Tony Blair’s government introduced them. Then, the fees were £1,000 a year. But in 2004, Labour put them up to a maximum of £3,000. And when the Tory-Lib Dem coalition took charge in 2010, it raised them to a maximum of £9,000 a year. Students, trade unions and opposition political parties have objected ever since. And the issue of tuition fees has become even more contentious during the pandemic.

The Canary has reported on the situation for students during the various lockdowns. As it previously wrote, many students have not been living in their halls of residence all the time during the pandemic. Moreover, a lot of their learning has been online. So, people have been questioning why students still have to pay both rent and the full tuition fees – given that they’re not receiving a complete service for either.

And someone also started a government petition over tuition fees.

A half a million-strong petition

It states that the Tories should:

Reduce University student tuition fees from £9250 to £3000

The petition:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Call[s] on the government to consider holding debates in Parliament between MPs and university students to raise/discuss issues that affect them. It will allow students to voice their opinions and concerns about tuition fees of £9250 a year which are too high, particularly as grants have been removed

As of 10am on Friday 29 January, over half a million people had signed the petition. And the government has responded. But what it said is not what many people were hoping for.

The Tories say…

The government stated that:

Tuition fee levels must represent value for money and ensure that universities are properly funded. Government is not considering a reduction in maximum fee levels to £3,000.

This is a difficult time for students and Government supports the desire of everyone in higher education (HE) that students continue receiving the best possible learning experience, while recognising the wide range of issues that have arisen from the pandemic.

But students and some of the media have claimed that their tuition fees are not “value for money”.

“Hand-wringing”

The Telegraph columnist Victoria Lambert was scathing of the government’s petition response. She wrote:

What stands out to you? Is it the phrase “Value for Money”? Clearly this is nonsense when many students have missed swathes of practical instruction in areas from engineering to music that cannot be replicated via Zoom.

Or perhaps it’s the hand-wringing “difficult time for students”? You bet it is. Thousands of young people are wondering how they have spent chunks of the past six months either locked up on campus, threatened with absurd and petty fines or back home, sharing the family WiFi as they try to study fluid dynamics and number theory while sharing a bedroom with their Lego-mad younger sister. They may also be poleaxed with grief having lost a grandparent to Covid.

Yet the government seems unrepentant.

Students: put up or shut up

It went further in its response to the petition. It somewhat pointedly said:

Students have made their voice heard through a range of e-petitions over the past year. Government’s responses to previous petitions on fee refunds can be read here… [web link] The Petitions Committee held an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on students, and Parliament debated its impact on students on 16 November 2020… Students may engage with the democratic process further by writing to their MP.

In other words? Students should keep quiet. Because the Tories have had enough of hearing from them.

The challenge with the situation is that the problem isn’t new. The pandemic has just exposed tuition fees for the pernicious money-making scheme they really are. What happens now could be game changing. Students must continue to work together, collectively, to force the government to act.

Featured image via Manfred Werner – Wikimedia/Mancunion 

Support us and go ad-free

Fund our Investigations Unit

You can help us investigate corruption, expose injustice and uncover the truth.

As one of the only independent investigations units in the country, we work for you – but we need your help to keep going. We need to raise £10,000 to continue our groundbreaking investigations. Can you chip in?

The Canary Fund us
  • Show Comments
    1. Once again, the Tories throw students under the bus
      //
      WELL –firstly how about all teaching staff stop work? At home as well
      as in School plus universities areas While Boris get shut of Gavin useless Education Minister??
      //
      Tory Govt need to sort out this mess Now not when they can be bothered voters plus school kids including Universities students -they need to stop robbing the school + university funding to pay other, Tory pet project.
      //
      Remember Boris all the school kids plus university students you let down now coming of age to vote will not forget next G.E. OR May 2021 local area election for Cllr seat which party betrayed them fully over funding plus rent Problem within universities now plus the lack of School education you stopped Boris -Hancock -Gavin while under your Tory party rule Boris.
      //
      Boris + Hancock + Gavin are you Tory Govt using the student digs to L-Down travellers coming to U.K. from other country and collecting the cash you charge in fees back to Tory party yes or no? in addition, making all the student pay for Digs they are not in now while L-Down are in place.
      FINALLY!
      I personally think something dodgy is going on within Tory Govt within U.K. rich businessmen + women still coming to London areas from overseas and could or maybe getting quarantined possibly in student digs as well as university ground to save them large Hotel bills while in L-Down.– I as a grandparent with a student at home now being asked to pay for his room fees when he is at home why? Gavin/Boris he is at home not in his digs at university place he must pay his rent to stay in my rented home Boris.
      So, cannot afford to pay both fees to university rich trust members for a room plus rent to my landlord Govt say he must pay while living with me. And not using the university digs Gavin why should pay for a digs they are not using take about being screwed ( ALL students are Boris+ Gavin O.K.)

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.