THE TUITION FEE FREEZE – TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

by Laura Potts

As the country continues to languish in the grasp of a Conservative government, and the shadows of brexit and the snap election continue to lengthen, many are left questioning the political standing of this country’s future. This year’s extraordinary general election has made many people feel alienated from their government, especially among the younger generation. Hardly surprising, as the ultimate outcome reflected the voting preferences of their elders, with 58% of 60-69 yr old’s voting conservative while 62% of 20-24 year olds voted labour.

Now, nearly 4 months later, Theresa May is pledging to help young people and those who struggle to get by, with claims that she is ‘listening to the voters’. Personally, I would expect a leader to help those who are struggling as their first priority, not just as a fallback option after an unsuccessful election. Labour have called the pledges “desperate”; this is not far from the truth.

The promised help, so long awaited, comes in the form of freezing tuition fees – the same tuition fees that rose to £9250 just months after she took office as PM. There is also talk of an increase in the earnings threshold for repayments, up to £25k. We all know about the myriad financial problems faced by young people, from difficulties getting on the property ladder to the rising anxieties of tuition fee debt. It seems like the Tories have finally gotten wise to this and have decided to play off it with this round of hollow pledges. The prime minister could perhaps have earned more respect by recognising these issues 15 months ago, before implementing the £250 tuition fee rise of last year.

These last ditch attempts to win over a generation will not be enough

May may claim to be listening to us, but that’s hard to believe while a multitude of other extremely concerning issues, such as the all-time high of child poverty or the deterioration of living standards for all but the rich, remain unaddressed. Labour’s pledge to scrap tuition fees garnered a lot of interest from the younger generation, and no doubt attracted many votes. This Conservative strategy of following suit by freezing fees is an attempt to tap into the same support. However, this is based on the flawed presumption that our votes are always directly in line with the best interests of our wallets. This is simply untrue. From fox hunting to privatisation to austerity to their anti-migrant sentiment, many people of my age group have plenty of other reasons to not support the Conservatives.

These last ditch attempts to win over a generation will not be enough. Worse, their assumption that they could achieve this by only talking of monetary concerns is frankly insulting. Although student welfare and equal access are vital issues, the Conservative government have a long way to go to convince the masses that they have the best interests of the young and less well off at heart.

Featured image credit: Circe Denyer


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