Greens commit to abolishing fees and student debt

Manifesto says party would reintroduce block grant for universities

April 14, 2015

Source: Green Party

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

The Green Party has committed to a policy to abolish tuition fees, which it says would cost £8 billion a year in the long run, as well as to cancel student debt, which it costs at £2.2 billion a year.

The party’s manifesto, published on 14 April, says the policy to end undergraduate tuition fees would “cost about £4.5 billion over this Parliament, and in the long run around £8 billion a year”.

The Greens also commit to a policy of “cancelling student debt issued by the Student Loans Company and held by the government”. It adds: “Taking account of the loans that it is expected would never be re-paid, the total value of these loans is estimated to be around £30 billion. Assuming that these loans would be paid off over the next 25 years, and taking account of interest, this amounts to around £2.2 billion a year in revenue that the government would not receive.”

The total cost of the debt cancellation would be £55 billion on the Greens’ figures.

The party also says that it would reintroduce student grants “costing £2.2 billion over the Parliament”, adding that “in the longer run we would support student living costs through the basic income”.

The party would reintroduce block grant funding to universities in place of fees.

The manifesto also says that in the long term the Greens would be “considering scrapping fees for academic postgraduate courses”. The party is also “committed to ending the scandal of vice-chancellors paying themselves £300,000 a year while cleaners on the national minimum wage have to resort to food banks” and to supporting the 10:1 pay ratio “fair pay campus” campaign, the manifesto says.

In terms of how the policies would be funded, the higher education section of the manifesto says only that Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, stated in 2010 that “the costs of a free higher education could be met by increasing corporation tax for larger companies to the level paid in other G7 countries and ring-fencing some of that money”.

The manifesto as a whole outlines a number of revenue-raising measures, including a wealth tax, a “Robin Hood” financial transactions tax and cracking down on tax avoidance.

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