Posted on: 1st July 2017 Posted by: thetorch Comments: 5

Repeating a lie made during the televised leaders’ debate during the general election, Jeremy Corbyn today once again lied about student numbers at a rally he attended in London.

UCAS Figures Contradict Corbyn

Corbyn, while addressing thousands at the rally, said that “fewer working class young people are applying to university”, according to trade union Unite. The truth is, however, the opposite. In fact, UCAS statistics for 2017 show that the number of low-income students applying for university is at its highest on record, flatly contradicting Corbyn’s claim.

Repeated Lies

This wasn’t just a slip of the tongue, however – Corbyn made the exact claim during the debate for the 2017 general election, and was widely criticised for it then. To make the mistake a second time appears not to be an error at all, but a calculated mistruth designed to frighten voters.

Missing The Mark

Corbyn used his statement as support for his desire to scrap university tuition fees. But a recent survey by The Student Room of thousands of students between school age and current undergraduates showed that the biggest concern for students is not in fact tuition fees, with over 75% of students not worried about repaying them, but was in fact the cost of living.

During their time in Coalition, the Liberal Democrats, after imposing a cap on tuition fees, which the Conservatives did not want to do, introduced a £150million national bursary fund to help with the cost of living, and vetoed Conservative plans to scrap maintenance grants – being defeated on both measures.

5 People reacted on this

  1. Whatever more poor students dropping out than ever. Why shouldn’t education be free for all why can’t we have the chance to better ourselves at anytime. Not all can go to uni at 18 don’t block people’s chance of a better future by putting a price on it.

    1. Because its a massive subsidy to middle class kids who can afford it anyway. That money could go on welfare for singe mums or the elderly.

      1. And wealthy families who pay to send their children to private schools should have to pay the full or real cost i.e. unsubsidised rate of sending the same children to university.

    2. In my view, in an ideal world, it should. We do all benefit from education. However two things are very clear.
      1. Graduates who go on to earn decent wages do benefit more directly from this investment – as do their children and grand children (because of inequalities in achievement between kids from better off and poorer families).
      2. We cannot afford to pay for every student going to uni (especially with rising numbers following Blair’s misguided decision to focus solely on Uni’s rather than education and training more broadly) everything else which needs tackling. This is confirmed even by Labour, who said they couldn’t afford to scrap the benefits cap in their manifesto. Mainly this is because they chose to spend £11bn on scrapping tuition fees (a sum which dwarfs the cost of scrapping the welfare cuts and cap that Labour didn’t do).

      The system we have now means that those graduate who go on to earn lots of money, repay quite a bit of their education. Those who don’t, don’t contribute much, if anything. Nearly everyone does get some of their tuition paid by the state, because almost no-one – except very well off graduates (and you’ll excuse me if I don’t cry too much about them) pay it all off within the 30 years until it gets written off. This is by design, it is intended to be a shared responsibility between state and graduate.

      I think Labour made a massively wrong decision on priorities – to put those graduates who do well enough to pay any substantial amount of fees back ahead of the poorest is society who genuinely need help. Not removing the welfare cap belied Labour’s claim to care about the poorest. They may not be ‘the many’ in society, but they are the most in need of our help. Personally I believe this was a calculated political move, shrewd, but unprincipled, to win over the student vote.

      It has been clear for some time that the biggest barrier to kids from poorer backgrounds achieving educationally is in early years. Kids from poorer backgrounds drop off sharly in achievement from an early age, with those initially ahead of more well off kids dropping behind by age 11 or so. This also has to be more of a priority.

      So yes, free education for all would be great. The trouble is we manifestly can’t afford to do that and tackle inequality. Whilst the current system is flawed, what further education really needs is a much more radical rethink than just looking at tuition fees. We need ot look at how it connects with the rest of the world, with the arts bodies, with the health professions, with business – we need ot work out what we need. We need to think more long term, we need to make it flexible, adaptable. We need to look at apprenticeships and on-job learning, at burseries, at how the various organisations that direct the country feed in to ensuring that we are training people for things which we have a need for, which will actually lead to jobs – and not just jobs, to filling gaps in our needs across the whole spectrum of what we do as a country.

      In short fees are a sideline. They aren’t crippling for students. They don’t, or shouldn’t, put people off because you don’t have to repay unless you get to a position of being able to afford to. People have been put off because of the fear-mongering put about, because of the political capital which Labour saw it could generate from making people believe that they were going to be saddled with a debt they couldn’t afford.

      There were, and remain, other, higher priorities.

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