Labour students try to stay loyal

October 3, 2003

Labour students are uneasy over plans for higher education top-up fees, torn between support for their government and fear that higher charges will deter students from poorer backgrounds, writes Alan Thomson.

Karim Palant, national chair of Labour Students, admitted that his organisation had entered uncharted political territory with a Labour government proposing radical changes to higher education, which many students, including the National Union of Students, opposed.

Mr Palant spoke to The THES after he had addressed the Labour Party conference during Tuesday's education debate. He said that Labour Students were reluctant to become needlessly troublesome in the way that the Federation of Conservative Students had been for the Conservative government in the 1980s. The FCS was eventually disbanded by the Conservatives.

Mr Palant said: "We are not happy with the way top-up fees are going. We are not going to say we are in favour of top-up fees until we see what it actually means. But we are not shying away from the debate."

He added: "The challenge we face is still coming up with new ideas, still having a voice in the party, but still standing up for what we believe in."

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