Green Party: we will write off student loan debts

Policy proposal stands alongside a commitment to abolish tuition fees

April 2, 2015

The Green Party wants to write off all “outstanding debts” on student loans.

The Greens passed a series of policies on higher education at their conference last month, also including goals to scrap the National Student Survey and the research excellence framework.

Several policies – including those to cap vice-chancellors’ pay and scrap the REF and NSS – are drawn from a 2011 “manifesto” published in response to the higher education White Paper by Michael Bailey, senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Essex, and Des Freedman, professor of media and communication studies at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The party is targeting the votes of students, and one of its signature policies – confirmed but yet to be costed – is to abolish tuition fees and directly fund higher education through public spending.

One of the new batch of policies agreed by conference states: “Under a Green government all currently outstanding debts – yet to be paid – held by an individual, for undergraduate tuition fees and maintenance loans, and any resulting interest would be written off. Specifically those issued by the Student Loans Company and currently held by the UK government.”

The Green Party also pledges to “scrap the National Student Survey and other forms of evaluation which perpetuate cultures of ‘customer satisfaction’ and quality control” and to “scrap the research excellence framework and [ensure] its replacement with a peer review-based system of monitoring research work based on respect for the ability of individuals and groups of researchers to define their own research aims and priorities”.

It also advocates “an increased proportion of UK public expenditure devoted to higher education to at least the EU19 average of 1.1 per cent (up from 0.7 per cent) – a move that would bring in billions of pounds to the sector”. This replicates a passage in the aforementioned “manifesto” of 2011.

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

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