Education for the many or just one more perk for the few?

Education for the many or just one more perk for the few?

Articles, Opinion

Editor’s note – In this eloquently written article, our head of articles Lucy Higginbotham analyses Jeremy Corbyn’s policy to scrap tuition fees, one which was central to the Labour campaign during the 2017 General Election. Does the policy really succeed in fulfilling its aims of providing education for the many or just one more perk for the few?

Education for the many or just one more perk for the few?

Leading up to the 2017 general election, Jeremy Corbyn outlined how he planned to reduce inequality in the UK. The Labour manifesto had a chapter dedicated to education, which reflected the party’s endeavour to attract the support of young voters. A policy targeted specifically at young people was his aim to abolish university tuition fees, which did not appear on the manifesto of any other major party.

The Labour party also promised to reintroduce maintenance grants for students, which the Conservatives had previously replaced with loans. Whereas the average student now graduates with debts of over £50,000, under a Labour government many people who otherwise would not be able to afford the living costs associated with attending university would have received financial support from the government.
Corbyn put across a moral argument for free higher education, saying that “no one should be put off educating themselves for lack of money or through fear of debt”. Most people, if not all, would agree that it is wrong for someone to lose out on this opportunity simply due to their socioeconomic status which is entirely out of their control.

However, many young people are already disadvantaged with regards to their education before they reach university age. Someone who can afford to attend a private school, or someone who can afford to live in the catchment area for a grammar school or an above-average state school has a far greater chance of obtaining the grades, skill set and advice that would give them a chance of gaining a place at university. This suggests that someone of a middle-class background would still be more likely to attend university than someone from a working-class background, regardless of the cost. If this is the case, does it mean that, instead of giving everyone a fair chance of going to university, the abolition of tuition fees would in fact only save the money of the middle-class students who were already able and willing to pay? Is this a way of removing the barrier that many people face in progressing to the next level of education, or just an unnecessary bonus for the few at the top?

Even if there was convincing evidence that the abolition of tuition fees would reduce inequality, one must still take into account the immense cost of free higher education for all. In total, Labour’s plans to abolish tuition fees and reintroduce maintenance grants would result in an increased overall cost to the Exchequer of £9.062 billion per cohort. This is obviously a vast sum of money, and, understandably, many would argue that this is not the best way to spend taxpayers’ money. For example, free higher education is unlikely to appeal to older generations who might want their money to go towards improving the NHS, and some young people would rather see more affordable housing for first-time buyers so they can get on the housing ladder. Is it fair to spend public money on something that many members of the public feel they don’t want or need?

One argument is that a more educated population would be beneficial to the country as a whole, not just those who were being educated. But are some degrees better for the public than others? Some might advocate for the sponsorship of only certain degrees that provide essential qualifications that are required for positions that need to be filled in the public sector. However, deciding which courses would be deemed “useful” would cause controversy, and ultimately this would go against the principle of offering equal opportunities for everyone, because it would only benefit the people who wanted to pursue certain careers, and people would still be prevented from studying what they wanted to study by cost.

Corbyn clearly hoped to win the support of younger voters with this promise, as well as showing that Labour were willing to invest in the country’s future. But is it rightfully popular, or simply a populist policy proposed by Labour in an attempt to claw their way up in the polls?

By Lucy Higginbotham
Head of Articles, YouthPolitics UK

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The Brexit Negotiation’s impact on the Youth #2

The Brexit Negotiation’s impact on the Youth #2


Editor’s note – As an organisation we’re determined to highlight the impacts of any current affairs on the Youth of this country, ensuring that we are aware of the decisions being made which could impact us now, and in the future. Following on from last moth’s article, our deputy editor James Sullivan-Mchale provides us with an analysis of how this week’s Brexit negotiations have a direct influence on our generation…

The Brexit Negotiations and its Impact on the Youth #2


• Possible Worker Shortages with serious repercussions
• Problems over role of ECJ (European Courts of Justice)
• No set policy over Northern Ireland- still uncertainty over cross border projects
• Possible positive consequences of a Hard Brexit. But is it just wishful thinking?
• Devolution Disagreements with Scotland and Wales

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In news set to worry young people across the UK it was reported that in a survey 17% of businesses with EU national workers were seriously considering re-locating to another country. In an already crowded workplace this could raise the prospect of a generation with even smaller prospects if these businesses do leave. It was also claimed that 47% of EU nationals are considering leaving many work in areas such as nursing (in the NHS and private sector) meaning there could be a dangerous shortfall in these areas. Despite 31% of businesses seeing workers leave the country it does not appear that, as some claimed, these jobs have been filled by ‘British Workers.’ The main problems are actually being caused by the lack of solid progress in the negotiations which is creating uncertainty in these sectors especially for young people. This uncertainty was shown recently by the case of a Finnish academic working in London who was mistakenly sent a deportation notice. It was withdrawn by the Home Office but it shows the confusion surrounding current arrangements.

The role of European Court of Justice (ECJ) is to be the ultimate arbiter in cases concerning EU law. After we leave there is the problem of who has the final say over such disputes. Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, has announced that when we leave the EU we will also not be subject to the ECJ. But we don’t know what will happen to cases if there is a transitional period when we leave the EU. One suggestion is for the ECJ and the UK to appoint an arbitrator, basically a 3rd party who can be relied to give an impartial decision. However, more clarity is needed over these decisions and while there has been some agreement there has been nothing concrete signed.
Northern Ireland and the impact on the border on with the Republic of Ireland post Brexit is a real concern. Recently the UK Government has released a series of possible options about what could happen and these models vary considerably. Some of the cross-border projects could be allowed to continue as both sides are determined to avoid physical infrastructure which would be a hard border with cross-border points and checks. However, if by the time the UK officially leaves the EU and nothing has been agreed upon there are real concerns that this will happen. This may in turn be in breach of the 1989 Good Friday Agreement. One suggestion made is to create an exemption for cross-border trade that would mean small and medium sized businesses to transport goods freely across the border. However larger business would have to register goods brought across through an online system. Of course, this raises the prospects of people exploiting the system and increasing problems such as illegal immigration across the border.

Despite of all the negatives surrounding Brexit one recent survey found that if we have a hard Brexit then there could be a possible positive outcome for the UK. A study by Professor Patrick Minford has shown that a ‘Hard’ Brexit (one where the UK takes an isolationist stance from the EU) could be beneficial to the UK economy. This would allow the UK to strike new deals with developing economies and not have to remain within the strict tariffs imposed by the EU. IF the UK was to eliminate trade barriers and tariffs with the rest of the world it could lead to a boost of $80 Billion a year and an extra $40 Billion a year brought on by the aftermath. But while the economy could be boosted there could be an impact on jobs and unemployment could increase. Indeed, this was described by supporters of Open Britain as ‘Economic Suicide.’ There are still large-scale disagreements over this research with other distinguished academics arguing it contains mistakes and while right in principle would not work in practise. Again, this just fuels the worry of young people entering such a volatile and uncertain job market with the prospect that any company they join could fall to the economic problems meaning they may have to start their job search all over again.

There was also a problem developing over devolution and the fact that in Wales and Scotland the respective First Ministers Carwyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon are worried about a possible “power grab” by Westminster. Indeed, Sturgeon has called some of the proposals ‘daft.’ Their major qualm seems to be over the customs union and their lack of control over its outcome. If this limits devolution longer term then this might ultimately lead to a decrease in political participation and would be a serious concern if it means in the future the voice of the Youth could be even more neglected if it is simply policymakers in Westminster dictating everything. In fact, Wales does not even have its own specialised Brexit Minister meaning there is a feeling that their needs are being passed over. However, in response the UK Government claimed that the Bill would lead to increased devolution in both regions and one prominent minister even said it would be a devolution ‘bonanza.’ The situation still remains very uncertain.

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Articles, Recruiting

We are now recruiting! We’re looking for talented young adults to volunteer to join our forever growing YouthPolitics UK team, it would be great to have you on board! Multiple roles on the Executive Committee in addition to our National Committee are available. Take a look at the available roles below and then fill out the application form (best opened in desktop format as opposed to on mobile devices or tablets) to apply – Good Luck!

Executive Committee application deadline – 12pm (noon) on 10/09/17
National Committee application deadline – 12pm (noon) on 14/10/17

YouthPolitics Application Form 2017


Executive Committee

Please note all applicants must be over the age of 16 and live in the North West and able to attend regular meetings in Manchester.

Marketing Director – Lots of commitment desired. Head of advertising and promotion.

Head of Events – Lots of commitment desired. Ability to organise and co-ordinate events such as workshop and panels, primarily in the North West. Great organisation skills, contacts with grassroots campaigns and enthusiasm ideal! – NO LONGER AVAILABLE

Training Director – In charge of organising and co-ordinating events and workshops which equip the youth with skills in debating, public speaking, policy making etc… – NO LONGER AVAILABLE

Head of Articles – Lots of commitment desired. Great literacy skills and political knowledge ideal, someone up to date with current affairs and be willing to be the first line of editorial. – NO LONGER AVAILABLE

Campaign Director – Lots of commitment desired. Someone with campaign experience, who is able to co-ordinate, organise and publicise campaigns that affect the youth. – NO LONGER AVAILABLE

Community Outreach Co-ordinator – Responsible for creating a YouthPolitics programme for political societies within schools across the UK to adopt. A great enthusiasm for politics, debating and public speaking needed! – NO LONGER AVAILABLE

YouthPolitics Activist Co-ordinator – Responsible for growing our core base of YouthPolitics activists, understanding what issues they are passionate about. Campaign experience ideal.


National Committee

All are welcome to apply!

U14 Officer – Responsible for growing our base amongst those between the ages of 11-14 and engaging them into politics, ensuring that they are properly represented.

U16 Officer – Responsible for growing our base amongst those between the ages of 14-16 and engaging them into politics, ensuring that they are properly represented.

U18 Officer – Responsible for growing our base amongst those between the ages of 16-18 and engaging them into politics, ensuring that they are properly represented.

Over 18 Officer – Responsible for growing our base amongst those between the ages of 18-25 and engaging them into politics, ensuring that they are properly represented.

LGBTIQ Officer – Responsible for growing our base amongst young adults who are in the LGBTIQ community and engaging them into politics, ensuring that they are properly represented.

BAME Officer – Responsible for growing our base amongst young adults who are in the BAME community and engaging them into politics, ensuring that they are properly represented.

The following available roles are responsible for growing our base amongst young adults who live in the region specified and engaging them into politics, in addition ensuring that they are properly represented.

Scotland Representative x2

Wales Representative

Northern Ireland Representative

London Representative

South East of England Representative

South West of England Representative

West Midlands Representative

East of England Representative

East Midlands Representative

West Midlands Representative

North East Representative

Yorkshire and the Humber Representative

We’re also looking for delegates to represent the youth segments of the following political parties. Please note, you have to be a member of the youth membership of the party in order to apply.

Conservative Delegate

Labour Delegate

Lib Dem Delegate

Green Party Delegate

UKIP Deleagte

Wow – you reached the bottom of the list of roles available to apply for! As you can see, there are many opportunities to get involved, so do!

YouthPolitics Application Form 2017