Affordable education a key issue for Twickenham MP candidates
The Conservatives look to retain an important seat in Twickenham as they fend off Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates.
It was only appropriate that affordable education was a main issue at a Twickenham hustings event held at St. Mary’s University.
Student fees increase to £9,000 per year in 2012 and will be on the rise again. New legislation will push student fees to £9,250 for the 2017-18 school year.
Additionally, universities will have the option to increase tuition fees every year until 2020, regardless of quality of teaching.
The first response to the issue came from conservative candidate and current Twickenham MP Dr. Tania Mathias who empathized with the current financial situation of students.
Dr. Mathias said “I have to admit I had free university and I didn’t have to pay tuition fees, and that is the sadness now that for the stability for universities the tuition fees are here.”
Dr. Mathias went on to outline the conservatives plan on what changes could be made to help students with rising university costs.
“Realistically for the universities if they are judged by their teaching quality that is going to be a reason why they can raise the fees,” said Dr. Mathias.
The other potential danger for the constant rise in tuition, is that the increase in prices will discourage students from lower class backgrounds from even applying to university.
According to Dr. Mathias, the students from the less advantaged backgrounds were not yet being deterred, but admitted it is something that needed to be monitored on an annual basis as free college tuition is just not possible due to the current financial status.
The next candidate to discuss their views on the issue was Labour candidate Dr. Katherine Dunne. Dr. Dunne looked for alternative methods to pay for education which would leave students debt free.
“We can pay for things by raising taxes on higher ed by raising corporation tax, to make education affordable” said Dr. Dunne.
“Labour will abolish tuition fees, we will bring back grants so students can afford to study.”
Liberal Democrat, Sir Vince Cable, who is looking to return to the seat he held for 18 years after losing out in 2016 was the final candidate to speak on education.
Sir Vince said: “Well the Labour party is not going to abolish student tuition fees and if they were they would face the same problem the last government faces where universities were becoming bankrupt and their faced with the problem with who will pay for them.”
While exploring other ways to make education affordable, Sir Vince also had some harsh criticism for Scotland’s education system.
“What else do you do? In Scotland they do not have tuition fees, but what they do in Scotland is they raid school budgets to fund students, and they raid further education colleges which are much worse than they are south of the border. This is wicked, cynical and wicked.” said Sir Vince.
“What I did when I came to office, I inherited a system fee loans. We tried to turn them into a form of gradual tax where nobody pays until they graduate. It’s tough on students I don’t deny that, but my question is what else do you do?
Twickenham is one of the most vital constituencies in the 2017 election. In 2015, the majority for Dr. Mathias was only 2,017 votes and the result could come down to students and young people.
Don’t forget to vote in the general election on June 8th.