Liberal Democrats to tackle student debt

The Liberal Democrats have promised to remove the fear of debt from university students by scrapping tuition and top-up fees and increase grants for poorer students.

The party announced that a Liberal Democrat government would provide grants of up to £2,000 per year to poorer students.

The Liberal Democrats also pledged to tackle student debt, promising that it would be £7,000 less than under Labour plans for those on low incomes.

The average student debt is now £13,051 and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has stated that average student debt would rise to £20,000 with the imposition of top-up fees. The party also claimed that bankruptcy rates among students are “spiralling”.

The Liberal Democrats education spokesperson Phil Willis claimed that student debt had increased by 240% under the Labour government and said that a recent report ranked the UK as the third most expensive place in the world in which to get a university education. He said: “I want our young people to maximise their potential by being free to choose the most appropriate university course without fear of debt. A place at university should be based upon the ability to learn not the ability to pay.”

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said that Prime Minister Tony Blair had “broken his promise” of 2001 when he imposed top-up fees on students last year. He said: “We should not be saddling our young people with such huge debts as they start out in life. How can our young people get a foot on the housing ladder while they work to pay off their £20,000 debt? How can they plan for their pension and start saving? How can they afford to start a family and the extra costs that brings when they are paying off their student debt?”

Mr Kennedy said that women in particular suffered more from increasing student debt than men, because they earned less, on average.

He concluded: “The Liberal Democrats don’t just oppose top-up and student tuition fees because we disagree with the policy. I personally oppose them because I think there is no more nauseating sight than politicians pulling up the ladder of opportunity behind them.”


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

03 February 2005
Liberal Democrats campaign for student vote
The Liberal Democrats have begun targeting the student vote, which it believes can 'swing' the vote in over 20 constituencies around the country in the next General Election. Speaking to a gathering of students at the London School of Economics, Mr Kennedy stressed the importance of the student vote.
30 March 2005
Lib Dems launch local election campaign
The Liberal Democrats have launched their local government election campaign by declaring the party "the growing force" in local government. A statement released by the party stated that the Liberal Democrats had "pushed" Labour into third place in last year's local elections.
19 April 2005
Lib Dems pledge to cut ‘hidden’ NHS waiting lists
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to cut the NHS’ ‘hidden’ waiting lists of people awaiting diagnosis. Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy promised to provide £350 million to help cut waiting times for diagnosis for around 500,000 people who, he said, are “languishing” on these “hidden” waiting lists.
14 August 2003
Tories claims student debt will 'triple' under Labour
The Tory Party has said today that student debt looks set to triple between now and 2010, with those leaving university in seven years time likely to be £33,708 in the red.
20 September 2005
Lib Dems call for ‘fairer taxes’
The Liberal Democrats have been urged to adopt a policy of “fairer taxes; not higher taxes”. During a keynote speech at the party’s autumn conference in Blackpool, Treasury spokesperson Vince Cable, said that the Liberal Democrats had to dissociate itself from its image as a ‘high tax and big spending party’.