Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 December 2002

Fees Headache For New Labour

AS THOUSANDS of students marched through central London against fees, Tony Blair announced that he had ruled out the introduction of up-front top-up fees.

This is a significant concession by Blair, who is one of the foremost proponents of top-up fees within the government.

This concession is a result of the huge anger that exists against the government's fees policy. The introduction of top-up fees would be a hugely unpopular step and would clearly be seen as putting an insurmountable barrier in the way of working-class and many middle-class students who wanted to go to university.

Many members of the government, as well as New Labour's rank and file, are opposed to top-up fees because they fear an implosion in support if they are introduced - especially among layers of middle-class people who voted Labour in the previous two elections.

This resulted in cabinet ministers publicly opposing top-up fees and MPs attacking 'elitism' in education.

However, although Blair may have ruled out up-front top-up fees, he had hinted that universities would still be free to charge different levels of fees. He has also made it clear that the shortfall in funding of higher education would not be met by increase public spending.

Instead, students will be expected to bear the cost. This is consistent with New Labour's agenda of the welfare state and public services being run in the interests of big business.

In all likelihood, Blair will now favour a system whereby students pay back higher tuition fees through a graduate tax. Reports suggest that Blair would like to introduce a system modelled on the Australian one. In Australia students take out loans to pay their fees, which are then paid back through the tax system after they graduate.

Some in the government and academia argue that graduate tax is a fairer means of making students pay for their education, because they pay after they have graduated and are in work. However, graduate tax is still a deterrent to many students who fear a lifetime of debt after they graduate.

A survey published last week found that 63% of young people who opted not to go to university did not want to build up debt. Women, working class and FE students were the least likely to go.

This is borne out by the experience in Australia, where students from affluent backgrounds are far more likely to secure places on courses where full fees are charged.

In reality the only fair funding system is one which is free to all. Only a free education system can guarantee everybody their right to an education.

The NUS leadership may claim that the ruling out of top-up fees vindicates their strategy (or lack of strategy) against them. In fact, if NUS had helped lead a movement of mass action and non-payment from when tuition fees were introduced in 1997, students may have been able to defeat all fees. Students would certainly be in a stronger position to stop any new attacks.

We must now guard against any move by the NUS NEC towards acceptance of a graduate tax if it is proposed. Many on the NEC are allied to New Labour including Mandy Telford, the President of NUS. Telford supports an extension to England and Wales of the Scottish system introduced in 1999. But this system is in reality little different to a graduate tax, with students still having to pay for their education after they finish university, leaving them thousands of pounds in debt.

Students must build a mass movement against all fees and graduate tax. We must also build a fighting alternative to the current leadership of NUS, that is not tied to a political party that attacks students.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 13 December 2002:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Blair's War on Public services

The Sleazy Blairs

For A Socialist Alternative To War

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Firefighters Are Determined To Win

Fees Headache For New Labour

Partnerships Bill: End All Discriminatory Laws

Socialist Party feature

60 Years After Beveridge Welfare reform - back to the future?

Tolerating prostitution?

International socialist news and analysis

Venezuela: The Great Oil Class War

Building The Forces Of Socialism Internationally


Home   |   The Socialist 13 December 2002   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleMarch for free education! We demand a future!

triangleSocialist Students actions against uni fees on Budget Day

triangleWalk out against tuition fees on Budget Day!

triangleJoin the budget day protests!

triangleWhat we saw


triangleAnti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangleBlairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

triangleTUSC conference to debate 2018 elections


triangleLiverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students

trianglePlans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleDemonstrations by uni students and staff greet Bath vice-chancellor resignation


triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleTrump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee



Unite protest against blacklisting


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain



Arriva bus strikers stand firm



BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes



Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test



School staff strike against privatisation



Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services



PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference


North Yorkshire

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters


Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest



Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000



TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections



Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students



Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice