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13 October 2010

A dish best served cold? Labour’s revenge on funding

Politicians have avoided democratic accountability for student funding for years. They must stop pas

By Oliver Willmott

Whether intentional or otherwise, when Peter Mandelson commissioned the Browne review of higher education funding in November 2009, he dealt the new government a major, early bombshell whilst maintaining the Labour youth vote by keeping tuition fee rises out of the election.

However, he is in good company when it comes to leaving toxic education reforms to future governments. Just as Labour ordered the Browne review, according to the BBC:

“When Labour entered office [in 1997], they inherited a report on higher education funding which had been commissioned by the previous Conservative government.

“The explosive recommendation of the report was that the principle of university education being free at the point of delivery should be scrapped.

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“Students would have to make a contribution, said Sir Ron Dearing’s landmark report.”

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Ring any bells? This brought about the current system of tuition fees, just as the Browne report looks set to make further radical alterations to higher education.

If we are to have a fair and fully functioning university system, we need politicians — from all parties — who will take responsibility for it rather than passing the buck to avoid electoral debate on the issue.