Vicky Spratt | Deputy Editor | Thursday, 19 May 2016

Throwback To When The Tories Promised To Scrap University Tuition Fees

Throwback To When The Tories Promised To Scrap University Tuition Fees

The Debrief: In 2003 George Osborne said that when the Conservatives were next in Government they would scrap tuition fees and make higher education free again.

Who doesn’t love Throwback Thursday? A chance to reminisce, to dip into another era, to go through your history and remember what things used to be like.

In this very spirit a picture was doing the rounds on social media earlier today.

‘What was the picture of?’, I hear you ask. Well, guys, it was of a letter. ‘And what did the letter say? Who was it from?’ It was a letter dated May 2003 written by the now Chancellor, George Osborne, and addressed to a young woman by the name of Rosemary.

No, there was no love affair going on between the two. No, Osborne’s letter to Rosemary, her MP in Cheshire, was an expression of his concern about the Labour government of the time’s intention of raising tuition fees from £1,000 to £3,000 a year.

Osborne had written to young people in his constituency to let them know that he was opposed to proposed hikes in fees. So, what exactly did Osborne have to say about tuition fees back in the heady days of 2003? I know you’re wondering…

‘I also wrote to other young people in our part of Cheshire. It is clear from the hundreds of replies that one of the issues that most concerns people your age is university tuition fees. It is hardly surprising. When I was at university ten years ago, my education was free. Since then, the Government has imposed fees which mean that most students today pay more than £1,000 a year to go to university. Now they want to go further and introduce so-called ‘top up fees’, which will mean students paying £3,000 a year for their education. To my mind, this is a tax on learning and is very unfair. Given that grants have been abolished too, students face leaving college with debts of around £18,000. There is lots of evidence that it is a fear of going into debt that most puts people from poorer backgrounds off going to university.’

So, there you have it. From the horse’s mouth, in 2003 George Osborne (the Chancellor who presided over the great fee hike of 2010 which say the cap on university fees, which is currently set to rise again, go up to £9,000 a year) called tuition fees ‘a tax on learning.’

He added, ‘I thought you would be interested to know that the Conservatives have just announced that we will scrap tuition fees altogether when we are next in government. Education will once be free again for students.’

Ah…the fickle nature of politics. Good to know that political parties have been to-ing and fro-ing on this issue for the last twenty years and that our Chancellor was lucky enough to be able to graduate debt-free.

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Tags: Politics, University, Money worries