Higher Education Funding

I supported the Government on Higher Education funding last night.

For someone like me – who has always believed that education should be free – it has been a difficult decision. Sadly, my view of education (free through raising taxation) isn’t on the table – or anywhere near it. That vision was ended when Labour introduced tuition fees and the principle of free education for all fell. So last night I chose to vote for the proposals because they are fairer than either the NUS or Labour proposals. I also could not justify students being the only group in society protected from the cuts.

Not only will paying back be at a cheaper rate than the current system – but no one will have to pay back until their salary reaches a higher threshold than before (£21,000 up-rated annually). Students from poorer backgrounds will have £150 million in bursaries and the maintenance grant which is over £3000 and has increased slightly doesn’t have to be paid back at all. Moreover, for the first time, part-time students (often poor, often missed first chance and often women) will also not have to pay anything up front – removing a real barrier to further education.

However, the key question for me was will that level of potential debt put poorer students off? When Labour introduced tuition fees – I believed poorer students would be put off. That didn’t happen. In fact more students went to university – and more of those students came from poorer families. With these increases I remain concerned – but have received assurances that if there is any sign of a falling off of applications from poorer students – action will be taken.

At this point in time, with the widest gap between rich and poor and social mobility non-existent – I believe the biggest inhibition to children from poorer backgrounds going to university – is that they don’t see themselves in that way and don’t have that aspiration. That is why for me the money we are putting into early years and into the pupil premium is so important. Closing that gap and increasing social mobility has to be the priority.

Lastly – on breaking the NUS pledge – I can only apologise. However, for me, that pledge was super-ceded by my signing up to the coalition agreement and although the coalition agreement allowed for abstention – for me that would have felt like opting out of making a very important decision.

I have listened to local students, local residents, party members, council group members and colleagues – and thank them all for their views. It is clear that everyone cares passionately about education and life chances – and that just because we may have differing views on how best to go forward – we all do care.

0 thoughts on “Higher Education Funding

  1. You have DEFINITELY lost my vote! I am amazed. I would have voted Conservative if I had known you wouldn’t stick to your principles. Why oh why did you do it? To get a job from Nick Clegg?

    Very sad day for Crouch Enders – they were talking about it in Post Office earlier and in Dunns!


  2. I am one of constituents and you have lost might vote. Not only that i will actively campaign to see that you lose your seat in the next election.

  3. yes, everyone has to sholder the cuts, even us students… right then in the eyes of equality… excuse me lynne, I’ll have 80% of your salary back, and that’s an 80% cut to the police, NHS, social services and… oh wait? sorry! oohhh did i miss understand? so that’s 80% from university funding and 20% from everywhere else? The butchering of higher education is not reflective of the cuts across the board, they are four times higher!

    As for breaking your pledge, well, that will have its own ramifications, how about your party leaders statement ‘an end to broken promises’?

    In the words of my 14 year old brother; ‘isn’t it funny how those affected are those who are not old enough to vote’ The students protesting are not winging that the tax payer should pay for their degrees, these students wont be affected by the cuts, its our younger brothers and sisters, our future children who will be.

    On behalf of my three younger siblings who between them will rack up tuition fee’s of at least £81000… thankyou. Oh and also thankyou for responding (or not) to my email 3 weeks ago asking about your position on this subject.

    I would like to finish through a liberal democrat style pledge to say you can count on my vote next election.

  4. “That vision was ended when Labour introduced tuition fees”

    Shame you never came out with that view until now. But I guess its easier to keep lying than tell the truth.

  5. “on breaking the NUS pledge – I can only apologise. However, for me, that pledge was super-ceded by my signing up to the coalition agreement”

    Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear. That says it all!!

    Your word to the electorate is cast aside in the disgusting pursuit of power and self gratification.

    Lynne, you are truly beyond belief.

  6. To expand: stating the difficulties of coalition and the need for compromise is convincing.

    But if you thought the moment tuition fees were introduced free education could never happen, you have told a lot of lies somewhere along the line.

  7. So you believe Education should be free but you voted to triple fees?
    Don’t you think it’s going to be harder to push for zero tuition fees now you’ve tripled them? Do you really think a Tory or coalition government will abolish tuition fees when the deficit is cut?

    You call it a “difficult decision”, its a complete betrayal of your principles, you believe in something and you’re doing the opposite.
    To be honest i hope you can’t sleep at night

    You mention that students don’t have to pay back until they’re earning 21 grand, uprated annually. The uprate annually bit was only introduced because of our protests and direct actions so don’t try and act like that was given to us willingly

    Poorer students are obviously more debt-averse, all the evidence points to that.
    You say you’ve received assurances about poorer students not being put off. These assurances are from the Tory Party. Do you trust them to help poor people?

  8. Also Vodafone owe £6bn in tax, the rich dodge £120bn a year according to revenue and customs. Make them pay our fees!

  9. Shame on you Lynne. I have always been a Liberal Democrat voter and genuinely admired your work but am shocked by both this betrayal. I am also shocked by how much you are prepared to let down groups such as women and trans people who you are meant to be representing as Equalities Minister. I have lost my faith in you as a politician, and also in your party.

  10. Shame on you
    I can’t believe that I actually voted for you! Never will I make this mistake again and I hope your career and the future of the lib dems is ruined by this decision. Your justification is even more infuriating and deluded. I can’t believe you even try to blame labor for this. You are in government, they are not. From this point on I will always vote labor!

  11. Brave of you to show your face on your blog. We don’t like either of them. Your attempt to turn “breaking a pledge”-A solemn oath into a pathetic Cmaeron made us do it shows you as a bunch of lickspittle careerists.

    We;; that career won’t last long. There’ll be no jobs left in the public sector and you’re a failure in Public Relations. Incompetent, morally bankrupt and incapable of coherent argument. In the immortal words of Edwin Starr “Lynne ! OOH! what are you good for?Absolutely nothing!”

  12. Pingback: Tweets that mention Higher Education Funding | Lynne Featherstone -- Topsy.com

  13. I find it sad that you can betray your voters so flippantly.
    Until today I was a paid up member of the party; I’m seriously reviewing that position on the basis of the political cowardice I saw from the party last night.

  14. What was it, Lynne, lack of courage or lack of convictions? This must be a sad day for you knowing you have betrayed your supporters for a ministerial salary. But remember it’s a sadder day for them. Enjoy the perks while you can.

  15. What can I say?

    You stole my vote. You stole my faith in democracy.

    You have no integrity. No self-respect.

    I have voted for you for Lib Dems for over a decade (with a break in 1997 for Labour).

    Democracy is obviously cross in the box every five years and then you just do whatever will keep you in power.

    My PLEDGE is that I will never vote Lib Dem again.

    You are a disgrace.

  16. Oh dear Lynne. I think you know, in your heart, this was a utter mess for your party.

    You must understand that you cannot stand as ‘The New Politics’, you cannot be supercilious to the other parties and then, as soon as you are in power, say “Labour did it so why should we be blamed when we do the same thing’. This is not the ‘new’ anything.

    I would have much more respect for you if you were honest. An honest response would be “I signed a pledge without thinking about it; without considering the financial state of the country and without being realistic about whether I would have the enact what I was pledging. I apologise for this – in retrospect I realise it was wrong and I mislead you. However I feel the policy is the right one and as an elected MP I had to do what I thought was right”

    Instead you have gone for a bizarrely detached and defensive position. You go for a position of ‘I signed a pledge – sorry about this, but it didn’t apply and nor does my manifesto – only the coalition agreement does’. This is some pretty odd logic – I don’t get to vote on the coalition agreement, but I did get to vote for you when you stood with a manifesto and a signed pledge – a pledge which, need I remind you, didn’t mention your party winning at any point.

    Ironically the biggest losers from all of this, other than our economy and future generations of students, are your party. Hopefully people have now seen the downside of AV – that it makes undemocratic coalitions more likely and reduces the ability to hold a government to account by examining its actions against its manifesto.

    You have profoundly disappointed me, and I have to wonder if yesterday’s vote was really what you got into politics for.

  17. You should have resigned your ministerial post and stuck to your promise – what promise will you break next,; vote to bring fox hunting back in order to keep your ministerial post?

    I’ve voted Liberal all my life – never ever ever again.

  18. I thought you were one of the better politicians Lynne.

    How wrong I was.

    I am so disappointed in you. I gave you my vote back in May. Never again.

  19. Lynne,

    I commend you, firstly, for allowing people to comment here whether they agree with you or not.

    However, I can’t help but feel it would have been better for you to ride out the anger and not write this. It comes across as a justification to yourself, not voters.

    Personally, I am far more angry with those who abstained – we vote in MPs knowing they have to make tough choices and being in Government should mean they take these on the chin, like you and others, not take the cowards way out.

    I hope for all our sakes the Govt implement more of the LD manifesto.

  20. “….on breaking the NUS pledge – I can only apologise”. That’s right, that’s all you can do. Certainly not keep it. You do not deserve to be in politics. Or should I say, that’s why you are. Won’t be getting my vote next time, but somehow not sure you actually care.

  21. So your preferred option – free education for all – wasn’t on the table, so you voted for the option at the polar opposite end of the political spectrum?

    It is extremely rare for politicians to ‘pledge’ anything: a fact not lost on the thousands of people who voted Lib Dem. Why should anyone believe a word you say now? Where did your morals go? Did you sleep soundly last night?

  22. I appreciate your honesty and admire the balance in your post, however it remains that you had no mandate to vote for the rise.

    I voted Lib Dem for the first time because I agreed with more of your policies than those of Labour. One of these was the “No increase” pledge you signed.

    It was your job to uphold the principles your voters admired and aspired to when they put their cross in your box. In that you’ve failed, and in so, eroded the democratic principles of the UK.

    We knew Cameron would raise fees and many voted Lib Dem to oppose that. That Clegg and you have reneged on your pledge just makes you duplicitous. Be sure that many of those who voted for you feel hoodwinked, and they’ll not make that mistake again.

  23. Nobody voted for you to do this. And very few will be voting for you again.

    You have shamed democracy and constituency representation, and the only way you could possibly salvage the situation is to resign, force a by-election, and thus expose the death of LibDem support the Conservative coalition has brought.

  24. You wrote: “on breaking the NUS pledge – I can only apologise. However, for me, that pledge was super-ceded by my signing up to the coalition agreement…”
    The truth is you had a choice of forgoing a seat in the government which was obtained by lies or your dignity, you let go of your dignity now however you wish to sugar-coat that to ease your… umm i was going to say conscience but apparently none of that in your arsenal of excuses either.
    I do hope that someday when your grand children asked you “who sold our country?” you’d have enough courage to stand up and tell them that it was you and your lost for the illusion of power.

  25. If we all have to pay for the cost of our education why don’t you now (many years later) pay for the one you had for free Lynne? Don’t see anyone who benefitted from student grants/no fees offering to do that, wonder why?

  26. Lynne, ignore all the comments about ‘you’ve lost my vote’ and ‘shame on you.’ They’re being made by a tiny, but organised and concentrated, minority. Besides, students rarely vote anyway and their anger will decrease over time. I’m part of the first year who will be affected by these changes and so I’ve examined them and I think that they’re perfectly fair and sensible. Why shouldn’t we have to pay for our own education when we can afford it – we’re the ones who directly benefit? You did the right thing and I’m so glad you didn’t resign – you’re a great minister.

  27. These commenters are pathetically shortsighted. I think the Lib Dems have been put in a tough spot, and they’re clearly trying to push many progressive measures on to the agenda in some very unforgiving circumstances. They’ll still have my vote.

  28. Some advice for the next election though: don’t make big grandiose promises that you can’t keep, instead sell the values that will guide you if you end up in another coalition. I’m loving this coalition business. I’d quite like a Lib-Lab one next time round.

  29. you have wasted 30 years of hard work building up the party after the last fiasco with the SDP

  30. 1. I’m not sure if the policy is actually the right one in the sense that the issue is not simply about the amount of public money going into Universities v the amount the individual pays, but also about what sort of University education should be supported by the state. It seems that these questions have not been worked through; perhaps public money should be focused on supporting academic subjects (eg: history, art, philosophy) and those with significant vocational import (eg: engineering) which will ensure quality university education.

    2. Government is always harder than it looks and the Lib Dems inevitably find themselves making tough choices; made harder by being in a coalition where compromise is more necessary than normal.

    3. In the long term it is better to do the right thing than to be popular. Though that is tough if you are a politician because you naturally wish to remain popular enough to get re-elected.

  31. Shame on Fibdems for betraying their principles for their power. Shame on me for voting for you in the first place.

  32. As someone who has actually taken a lot at the various proposals available, and can recognize that funding an ideal LibDem no-fee policy requires a LibDem controlled budget to back it, I salute the courage that senior LibDems have shown in taking the best option currently available rather than sticking their heads in the sand. The denial option may play well for Labour, the NUS and students, and some junior MPs who’ve not quite got the concept of being in government (let alone a coalition government), but it would do the country no good at all.

    However, making the pledge in the first place was probably misjudged. While the rider “if remotely practical” might have been intended, such subtleties are clearly too much for our soundbite-driven culture. The MPs & candidates who signed it in the first place should have realised that; while the pre-election polls may have promised a strong parlimentary party, we we unlikely to have ever had that veto power. In the event, the voters bottled it and the party is left fighting (and making some reasonable acheivements) as the junior party in a coalition.

    It’s clear that the party has significantly improved the fee proposals, but if at that point they’re not able to compromise with the Tory majority, the Tories will in turn refuse to compromise with LibDem policies in future.

    As has been said elsewhere, if you want pure LibDem policies, you’ll need a LibDem majority in the house. Both the voters, and our MPs, need to remember this.

  33. I can’t really add much to what has already been said other than to reiterate that I will not be making the mistake of voting Lib Dem at the next general or local election.
    You say Labour introducing the fees had no effect on student numbers as if that’s justification for TREBLING them. What a pathetic, weak and frankly Lib Dem position to take. And what action will be taken if student numbers fall? The Tories are on record for saying that too many students are going to uni so this policy just plays into their hands and with you sheepish Lib Dems going along with it, they must be laughing their heads off.
    You used the AV referendum as a red line during your ‘negotiations’ but didn’t think to use something that you had promised on as one of those red lines?
    Surprising how little it takes for you to ditch your principles. Enjoy your ministerial perks Lynn, I hope they make looking at yourself in the mirror every morning easier.
    Shame on you.

    Surprising how little it takes to make you Lib Dems

  34. On behalf of my very bright niece (15) and nephew (12) who are now thinking that university is something they can’t afford I would like to say I hope you rot in hell for your lies.

  35. Lynne, your excuses are frankly self-contradictory.

    “That vision was ended when Labour introduced tuition fees and the principle of free education for all fell. So last night I chose to vote for the proposals because they are fairer than either the NUS or Labour proposals.”

    So why did you, years later sign a pledge to abolish student fees? Poor judgement or less honourable motives? I am genuinely struggling to think of an alternative…

    At a later date you realised that fees didn’t put off poorer would be students – so why did you sign the pledge? I think you need to explain your reasons before you apologise

  36. Protest against Lynne’s betrayal, outside the clock tower, Broadway, Crouch End, from midday on Saturday, December 11, before moving to the Hornsey Town Hall.


    Sign the petition calling for Lynne to be recalled to face the voters. A Lib Dem initiative to prevent unscrupulous politicians getting elected by making false promises and then ditching them once they’ve weaseled their way into office.


  37. The flaws in your thinking are many and glaring. You cannot seriously be that stupid. You had another choice – to vote for what you believe in, free education, by implication, by voting against this move. You chose not to. Abstaining would have been a complete cop out. So you had the easy choice of going with the flow, not rocking the government vote – or the hard choice – sticking to your beliefs and voting against the government. People will not forget, or forgive this, you have made a critical error.

  38. To all those who are clearly emotional about this issue take a look at the proposals again. In no way will the proposals, even at their most extreme, prevent ANYONE from going to University on the grounds of cost and anyone who says that it will is doing you a far greater disservice than any of the Liberal Democrats who voted for the proposals yesterday.

    What I think should happen is a complete review of education beyond the age of 18, not just a review of the situation as it currently stands, as was undertaken by Browne

  39. I have one question for you Lynne; your party’s policy still remains the same, abolishment of fees, do you still support this policy?

  40. Lynne, with this appalling move, you have just lost yourself the next election. Congratulations, I’m thrilled to bits.

  41. Bit odd that the Coalition Agreement which you say superceded your (personal) pledge to the NUS said that you could abstain on an increase in tuition fees, yet you voted for an increase. As Ron Gordon said, you knew that Labour had introduced tuition fees in 98 yet you still signed the NUS pledge in 2010. Nothing has changed in the meantime – except you’ve got a job which you didn’t expect to get and don’t want to lose… I sort of agree with Isla Dowds when she says abstaining is a cop out but at least it fits in with your “nothing to do with me gov, it’s coalition and that means compromise” (note to anyone voting for AV – this is the future).

    The papers report that you were “distraught” as you voted. You either believe in your damascene conversion that it’s all for the best and people are better off or you know you’re lying and so you cry as you do the deed. Which is it?

    You were either lying when you signed the NUS pledge (if you knew, as you say, that Labour ended your dream in 98) or you’re lying now as you justify what you did. Which is it?

    Don’t know why I’m bothering to write this. You won’t read it!!

  42. You can try to justify it all you like. BUT you signed a PLEDGE!

    Yes. Labour did introduce tuition fees. That’s why I stopped voting for them and instead voted for the Lib Dems. Never again.

    You promised to be different but you’re not. You’re worse because you cynically offered a cast iron guarantee by PUTTING YOUR NAME to something and stole people’s votes.

    Not only has your party lost my vote but I will try to persuade everyone I know not to vote for you.

    You should hang your head in shame.

    Jack Simpson says: “Lynne, ignore all the comments about ‘you’ve lost my vote’ and ‘shame on you.’ They’re being made by a tiny, but organised and concentrated, minority”.
    I don’t know what company you keep mate, but I am hearing similar comments to mine from friends, family, people at work etc. etc. I am a man in my mid-thirties who displayed a lib dem poster in my window in May. It’s not just the student vote that’s been lost.

  43. Don’t cry for me Hornsey Wood Green
    The truth is I never loved you
    All through my blog days
    My faked emotion
    I broke my promises
    To seek promotion

  44. The anger over this is very deep and very widespread because so many people are affected with their children and grandchildren having to face such huge debts, AND because people know that higher education is a public good and should be state funded, AND because they realise our higher education system is being destroyed.

    Good on yer Lynne, all this for a taste of power with your mates Clegg and Cameron. This is your Poll Tax moment. The Lib Dems are finished and you will be out at the next election. Or sooner –


  45. Again, I see your Labour-supporting readers are glossing over the fact that it was Labour who introduced fees, despite promising not to do so. Where was their new-found morale outrage then? Having re-read all the posts on here, I am truly shocked and sadden at how most people are either mis-informed or scare mongering about what has been agreed. As for Cllr. Matt Davies’ resignation, am I allowed to ask why he didn’t make his feelings knowm at the last Full Council, where there was a motion and debate on the subject? And will anyone seriously be surprised if ‘Red Dave’ from Crouch End re-joins Labour? Ggoodness km

  46. “Liberal Democrat party policy remains to phase out tuition fees” Why is this still on the LibDem website. If it were really the case you’d have voted against. The only decent step you and your colleagues can take now is to stand down from the LibDem party and take the Tory Whip. Stand as Tories in the next election. I feel ashamed to have voted Lib Dem.