Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Following a stream of emails he has received in recent months from students expressing concern about tuition and the government‘s threat on further top up fees, Peter Lilley is very pleased that the next Conservative government will abolish this ‘tax on learning‘.

    Peter Lilley said: “A very high proportion of young people from this area do go on to university so I believe the new Conservative proposals to abolish tuition and top up fees will be extremely popular.

    “Labour‘s university tuition fees are a tax on learning. They have let down hard-working families across North Hertfordshire, leaving young people with huge debts when they start work. Labour‘s interference in admissions is tying up universities in red tape.

    “We need a fair deal for students and universities. We want every student to be able to aspire to the top universities, every university to offer places purely on merit, and every student to be studying something worthwhile.

    “Despite claims to the contrary, the Liberal Democrats in Scotland still charge tuition fees to students, but when they graduate instead of during their course. Worse, Liberal Democrats would force the poorest students in North Hertfordshire to live at home and would not guarantee university students a full three-year course.

    Under Conservatives, the university sector will not be artificially expanded, will be better focused, and open to all who deserve to be there.”


    Notes to Editors

    Conservative Policy

    As part of Conservatives‘ wide-ranging reform of England‘s higher education, a future Conservative administration would (i) abolish Labour‘s university tuition fees, (ii) scrap Labour‘s 50% university admissions target, (iii) end the proposed Access Regulator for universities, (iv) improve vocational and technical education.


    The policy would be funded by the savings from (i) not over-expanding university admissions, (ii) not needing the various schemes designed to counteract the deterrent effect of Labour‘s plans for top-up fees, and (iii) abolishing the proposed access regulator. This would save the ?700 million that the Government wishes to raise in fees.

    Liberal Democrat Policy

    Fees Remain: Liberal Democrats claim that “the Liberal Democrats have already scrapped tuition fees in Scotland”. But tuition fees have not been abolished in Scotland – as fees still have to be repaid after graduation (the so-called ‘graduate endowment liability‘). Far from abolishing tuition fees, graduates just pay later and some pay more. As Labour‘s David Blunkett has remarked, “it is difficult to see how anyone in Scotland has gained, with 40 per cent of students not paying fees in the first place and now having the non-fee deferred so that they have to pay after they have left university” (HC Debs, col. 1096, 17 February 2000).

    Study at home: A leaked internal policy paper from the Liberal Democrats on “re-engineering the higher education” (by Phil Willis MP, cited in the Guardian, 17 January 2003) reveals that they want to force the poorest students to live at home. Students would receive a maintenance grant only if they studied locally. This would deprive students of their independence and prevent poorer students from going to the best specialist university to suit them.

    No guaranteed course: The paper also reveals that Liberal Democrats would also restrict access to higher education to a two-year foundation course. Third and fourth year honours courses would only be open to students on the basis of competition. Thus students, despite having won their places through A-Level results, would face uncertainty about whether they would be able to have access to a full degree.

    Local data

    Local authority area Full-time students aged 16 – 17 Full-time students aged 18 – 74
    North Hertfordshire 2445 2015

    The Census 2001 details the number of full-time students by local authority area (based on their term-time address). Source: http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/data_downloads..asp?dsid=W20

    (National Statistics website, Census 2001, ‘W20all‘ dataset).