Labour defend the rise in uni places - whose side are you on?
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Labour has defended the rise in the number of university places that happened while it was in power as a positive outcome, saying it has boosted the economy. Shadow higher education minister Shabana Mahmood argued that a greater number of university graduates would provide an asset to the British economy in competing with the emerging economies of other countries. The minister's comments came in a lecture to the University Alliance group of business-focused universities. Ms Mahmood drew on recent government figures that showed 90% of graduates were either in work or further study six months after graduating. She added that even lower performing universities such as University College Birmingham in her own constituency had a graduate employment rate of 81%. Her views contrast with the Coalition's decision to increase university fees, which have seen over 30 universities hike their fees to the proposed £9,000, and a drop of 8.9% applications for the 2012 academic year. The Minister argued that this is cause for concern. She said: "The government's reforms are going in the wrong direction; applications to university have dropped by 8.9% since last year, there have been falls in applications for degrees in science, technology, engineering and maths and from mature students." Supporting her views, Libby Hackett, of University Alliance, said that the recession had led to an increase in demand for degree qualified employees. In a blog for the London School of Economics, Hackett argued that the growing number of available university places were essential for the future of young people in Britain, and for the economic growth.
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