5 things the Tories are saying about students
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As Theresa May’s party is winning by a tight margin in the polls over Labour, the Tories have nearly achieved their political move for "strong and stable" leadership.
Yet how can they improve the life of students, which constitutes a major part of the electorate? Can they actually do anything to lure this demographic away from Corbyn?
We looked into it.
Theresa May, Leader of the Conservative party from Wikimedia Commons
After last year's Brexit vote, UK universities were worried not only for their European students, but also for their funding - which comes in great parts from the European Union.
In order to avoid a funding shortage, the Conservatives propose to replicate the American system of university funding, by building investment funds and allowing universities to capialise on the commercial perspective of their research, increasing investment in and by universities.
This follows the Higher Education bill that the government was hoping to pass, which bore resemblance to the systems used by American universities and was highly controversial amongst students.
There is no clarity about whether the Conservatives wish to continue to increase tuition fees. However, the party is offering a major condition to universities hoping to charge maximum tuition fees: they will have to become involved in the founding of free schools and academy sponsorship. In turn, this will allow them to establish maths schools in every major city. The party will still launch a review of fundings to ensure financial support offers "value for money".
New Institutes of Technology
Under the Tories new institutes of technology will be established, linked to leading universities and backed by leading UK employers. They will enjoy the same freedom as universities, including eligibility for public funds for productivity and skills research, and students being able to access loans and grants. These loans and grants will provide STEM subjects to degree level and above, as well as apprenticeships. Indeed, by 2020 the Tories are committed to create three million apprenticeships for young people.
Mental health is one of the major challenges faced by universities, impacting students' wellbeing. The Tories intend to pass a new Mental Health bill, which will focus on treatment and ending the stigma around mental health. Improvements in treatment should ba achieved by increased funding, as the party promises a further £1billion investment by 2020/2021.
The Conservatives want to ensure the funding of graduates schemes from UK’s largest graduate employers.
Also, a new minimum wage of £7.50 an hour will be introduced. This number will continue to increase to 60% of median earnings by 2020.
It seems that the Tories are on their way to replicate the higher education system of the United States, whether it is by pushing universities into the private commercial market or by threatening the affordability of UK universities. Even if their ideas could improve future students' prospects, their lack of practical policies for improving life of students is appalling.