Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/231/9250
Student Grants: New Labour's Second Thoughts
NEW LABOUR are, it seems, already backing off from their proposals to introduce a grant for some students. In recent weeks the government was said to be looking at alternatives to the current funding system, including the scrapping of up-front fees.
They had been forced to do this by the massive opposition to fees and the abolition of the grant since they were introduced. However, their plans for an alternative system promised little improvement for students. For many they would make their situation worse.
Even the proposed grant was extremely limited and would be received only by students whose parents earn less than £10,000.
Given the minimal nature of that concession, New Labour's reluctance to implement it shows just how much they want to avoid spending anything at all on students' education costs.
But they're also having second thoughts about introducing a graduate tax, which they rightly believe could become very unpopular, as up-front fees have done. After all, such a system would still leave graduates in thousands of pounds of debt.
The one thing the government is definitely still committed to introducing is market rates of interest on students' loans. This alone could have a devastating effect on debt-laden graduates.
All the confusion over the future of fees and the grant shows the urgent need for students to build a mass movement against fees and for a living grant to guarantee a system of free education.
In The Socialist 23 November 2001: