In light of our new Conservative universities minister, Mr David Willets, branding university students ‘a burden on the taxpayer’, it was only a matter of time before the tuition fees debate reared its ugly head again. As soon as the Conservatives chose to form an alliance with the Liberal Democrats rather than forming a minority government, it was glaringly obvious that both political parties’ opposing stances on university tuition fees would not sit well with one another- so much so that, to avoid division in the new coalition, the Lib Dems have been allowed to chose to abstain from voting for against the issue in parliament. Convenient, once you consider the long standing Liberal Democrat stance on the abolition of higher education tuition fees.
On the campaign trail, both Nick Clegg and Vince Cable signed an NUS pledge vowing to vote against a rise in tuition fees if they were elected into parliament. It was this core value that drew a lot of previously apolitical students into politics, and gave us an incentive to go out and vote- a policy that directly affected us. In stark contrast, the Conservatives remained sketchy on their stance on tuition fees throughout the general election campaign. When asked, representatives from the party told student voters that they wouldn’t comment on whether they’d raise tuition fees until they’d examined the results of a review into the state of fees. Again, rather conveniently, those results will not be released until long after May 6th (it’s been reported that the results of the review will be available some time in the autumn). Willets spoke about the current loan system, commenting that it was ‘unsustainable’- and many students felt the sting of the overwhelmed system last academic year when thousands of us received late payments of our student loans. His remarks are the strongest indication yet of a rise in tuition fees.
The phrase Con/Dem Nation emerged as a trending topic on the social networking website, Twitter, after Britain’s new coalition government was slowly and painfully announced. Funny as the phrase was at the time, Cameron’s savage spending cuts have revealed the flippant phrase to ring uncomfortably true.