As we are fast approaching a General Election and Labour are promising to scrap university fees and reintroduce the maintenance grants system. So I thought I would write a post about how the old system used to work.
Labour Manifesto – Abolish University Fees
There have been lots of things in the media said about how the Labour party plans to pay for this, including taxing the top earners, it should be noted there is no mention of exactly how this plan will be financed, other than several Labour MP’s stating only taxing the top earners would not bring enough revenue to cover all their plans. Hence things like Garden Tax have been mentioned, if you have not heard of this its basically a really high council tax bill for all). Only time will tell how they fund this plan, in reality it would mean rather than £27k of debt you will most likely be taxed forever to pay for the abolishment of fees.
I personally think that the student loan company charge any interest on your loan is out of order, if you dont know how this works check out The Student Loans website, but that being said I had to get a Student Loan when I was at university, and given this was under the maintenance grants system.
My warning to the younger voters is that even under a maintenance grant system, you will most likely still need a student loan to live on.
Plus under the student loan system you will not be asked to make any repayments until you earn over £21k per year, so in a lot of cases you will never repay your Student Loan anyway, rather than potentially being asked to pay for the debt your whole life.
How The Maintenance System Worked
The system was split into two grants one for your fees and one for your living, this was means tested and NOT everyone got their fees paid and most never actually received a maintenance grant. Meaning you still had to get a Student Loan. So don’t think under a maintenance system you will leave university debt free, as its all about family income.
So reintroducing the maintenance system would not be the golden goose it appears to be, and debt is debt.
Are you Aspirational?
Ask yourself why you are wanting to attend university in the first place, is it just for the experience? or is it to be able to get a better job when you graduate? In my view its a kinda mix of both (given I have 4 degrees I know a bit about university) but the main point I want to concentrate on here is that a degree is a route to a higher paid job, and if its not for your chosen career maybe you should rethink university in the first place and take the other routes such as apprenticeships, etc. Therefore removing the worry of ending up with a huge debt and use your vote by looking at other issues.
My point is that Labour want to abolish university fees, and although their is no mention of how this is to be funded in their manifesto, they are likely to tax higher earners. So I ask you if you are going to university and don’t aspire to be a high earner, then maybe you should rethink your choices, after all some careers require university education, barristers, teachers, IT, etc but some more creative careers dont and you may be better off thinking of getting onto an apprenticeship programme. That way you wont have to worry about the fees at all.
On the other hand think of it this way, if you are going to university and dont aspire to be a high earner, everytime you walk past other students such as law students, you are basically saying. Ha Ha you will be paying for my education.
Thats just not fair.
In short, if you are worried about the university fees and think voting Labour will need you dont have to pay them, I guarantee if they win the election, they will go back on their plans, either by not abolishing fees or making you end up paying for them one way or another. So please look at their other policies before giving them your vote, and don’t simply vote because of the fees.