Labour ‘would review university fees’ pledges David Miliband
November 09, 2012
Former foreign secretary David Miliband pledged Labour would look to cut tuition fees if re-elected when he visited the University of Reading this week.
The MP for South Shields also expected the voting age to be reduced to 16 and wanted to see better teaching of politics in schools to encourage more interest among young people.
The Labour backbencher was the guest for the university’s first ‘In Conversation with ...’ event with vice-chancellor Sir David Bell in front of an audience of staff and students on Wednesday.
As well as higher education, he also spoke on a number of subjects including Iran and Iraq, the US election, voter apathy, and the living wage, during the 25-minute question and answer session.
Mr Miliband praised the high quality of teaching and research at British universities and that more people had access to higher education than ever before but he also recognised there were financial challenges for both students and universities.
“The challenge is that people coming here are now paying three times as much as their predecessors over the last few years,” he said.
“You haven’t got all the money because the Government reduced the amount of subsidy, so how are you going to square that circle? How are you going to deliver more to the students who are paying more while recognising you have got budgetary constraints? That is the biggest challenge.
“And how do you do it at a time when countries right around the world are investing in their education systems and they are improving?
“There are many universities that want to take your place in the world rankings.”
Reading University was given approval to increase annual student fees from £3,375 to £9,000 from this academic year by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) in July 2011, and an access agreement to help those from lower income families from 2013/14 was approved by the regulator earlier this year.
After the one-to-one with Sir David, Mr Miliband told getreading of his concerns over the steep rise in fees and promised Labour would review all aspects of public funding.
He said: “What we have said is that we want to reduce the cap to £6,000 because we think that tripling the fee has been dangerous.
“I think that is right, and they have shown how they will pay for it.
“I am absolutely convinced that countries that will succeed in the future will do so because of their education systems.”