CUSU President Daisy Eyre has commented that the planned increase "is part of a fees model that now looks totally different to the (already controversial) model passed in 2010."Anna Menin

The House of Commons will vote on the government’s proposed £250 per year student fee hike today, following a motion forced by Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner.

A debate and vote has been scheduled for Opposition Time, in a bid by Labour to revoke the ‘statutory instruments’ which allowed the Tories to sanction an increase in fees without parliamentary legislation.

Writing for Varsity today, CUSU President Daisy Eyre urged students to familiarise themselves with the parliamentary circumstances which gave Labour the mandate for today’s vote: “This summer Universities Minister Jo Johnson has, quietly and bureaucratically, developed legislation to allow most universities to charge £9,250 per year to new students.”

“This is part of a fees model that now looks totally different to the (already controversial) model passed in 2010,” she added.

Former President Amatey Doku also had his say in his position as NUS Vice President for Higher Education, writing, “If the Conservatives are serious about appealing to younger voters, now is the time to show that they are serious about addressing young people’s concerns and needs.”

“The fact that a whole generation will be paying off vast amounts of debt into their fifties will impact everyone: this is a generation who will be less able to afford homes, or start families, or contribute to the economy.”

Since tripling to £9,000 in 2012, fees themselves have not risen, however the interest paid by graduates on tuition fees has increased sharply. From September, the interest rate paid by graduates will be 6.1%, an increase from 4.6% last year, calculated by adding 3% inflation to the retail process index from March 2017 - 3.1%. Student maintenance grants were also replaced with living cost loans last year.

In 2012, the Government committed to raising the graduate repayment threshold, currently at £21,000, to match inflation, but this policy was scrapped in 2015.

It is currently unclear whether the result of the vote will simply be symbolic rather than binding; a Department for Education spokesperson told the Huffington Post that the Statutory Instruments Act made clear that only a ‘motion to annul’ would be binding, not a ‘motion to revoke’.

Previously, the Tories have avoided a vote on the issue, dissolving Parliament before a debate could be held prior to the General Election, and arguing after the election that the forty-day deadline for such a motion had passed.

A number of Tory MPs, including Brexit Secretary David Davis, have opposed fee increases in the past. The DUP has also previously voted against the raising of fees in Parliament, and campaigned against them in elections.


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In an address to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee yesterday, Chancellor Philip Hammond warned that if graduates are proven to have difficulty finding work, universities may be forced to correlate tuition fees with a breakdown of course costs, or be disallowed from charging maximum fees. This comes after the release of the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2018, which saw a number of British institutions slip, including Cambridge, which fell to sixth.

“I do think there’s a difference between a graduate who leaves university with a quite significant level of debt and a degree which is known to provide strong employment opportunities”, said Hammond, “and a graduate who perhaps has a similar level of debt but who may not have a degree that is going to enhance his or her employment opportunities in the same way.”

The Financial Times calculate that most students will accumulate approximately £5,800 in interest alone before completing their undergraduate degrees. A report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimated that approximately 75% of the 2015 university cohort will never finish repaying their loans, before they are written off by the government after 30 years.

CUSU President Daisy Eyre has implored students to contact their local MPs to oppose the change. However, as Amatey Doku pointed out, this issue goes far beyond the student population: “The black hole of unpaid debt must then be covered by the tax payer. No one wins under this system.”

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