Tory leadership contest puts doubt on higher education reform

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The current Conservative leadership contest has cast doubts over the implementation of the Augar report, which suggested a decrease in tuition fees and interest rates.

The review, put in place by Theresa May, recommended reducing the cap on tuition fees from £9,250 to £7,500, with the government paying the shortfall. Dr Augar, head of the review, also recommended the reintroduction of maintenance grants for poorer students, which was previously abolished in September 2016.

However, after stepped down as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party on June 7th, doubts have been cast over the future of government higher education funding and whether or not the conclusions of the Augar report will be introduced. The various candidates now vying to become the next leader of the country have varying stances on the issue. Most of those with a realistic chance of becoming Prime Minister have previously spoken against tuition fees being decreased.

The review, put in place by Theresa May, recommended reducing the cap on tuition fees from £9,250 to £7,500

Boris Johnson, the current front- runner, spoke in 2015 against Labour’s plans to reduce tuition fees. However in 2017, whilst a minister in May’s cabinet, he stated that student debt was an issue that needed addressing.

Johnson’s two main challengers in Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt have had varied views in the past.

Gove has spoken out about reducing tuition fees by stating in 2017: “If we have to fund higher education, and if people who get university degrees go on to earn well, they should pay something back, which is what the current system does. It’s wrong if people who don’t go to university find that they have to pay more in taxation to support those who do.”

Hunt, on the other hand, has been quiet on university issues, only notably writing in 2017 in support of University funding for mental health treatments.

Image by NCVO via Flickr

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