by Anna Fenton
The Conservatives have said they will increase tuition fees to £7,000 if they take power at the next general election, which has to be held by next June. That will see tuition fees for undergraduates studying in England and Wales more than double. The fees are currently capped at £3,300 in England and Wales, with no tuition fees for Scottish students in Scotland.
Peter Mandelson has already suggested that Labour will allow universities to charge more than if re-elected. Nigel Griffiths, Edinburgh South MP indicated that there has been pressure from some universities to raise fees. He said: “Raising fees will pay for more lecturers and decrease tutorial size”. He indicated that the Conservatives’ figure of £7,000 might be acceptable. Only the Liberal Democrats will scrap those tuition fees that remain in the UK.
Fred Mackintosh, Liberal Democrat challenger for Edinburgh South said: “I look around Edinburgh South and I see people return from university with no job and a bank balance tens of thousands of pounds in the red. What sort of message is that?”
“Labour and now the Tories are showing their true colours. They just want to saddle young people with staggering amounts of debt on graduation…The people of Edinburgh South can vote for party which will condemn a generation of youngsters to greater indebtedness or for the Liberal Democrats who will make education free again, giving young people the best possible start in life.”
The National Union of Students has estimated that the average cost of attending university now stands at more that £42,000. The average student will have accumulated more that £20,000 of debt by the end of their university career.