How will the Labour and Liberal Democrats manifesto affect Sheffield students?

As the Liberal Democrats released their manifesto today, ShefNews compares their policies for students with that of Labour.

Labour’s most striking policy is their promise to abolish university fees and the introduction of maintenance grants.

To execute this policy, Labour would need £11 billion pounds worth of funding which they say will come from the rise in corporation tax from 19% to 26% by 2021/22.

The party’s manifesto said that no one should be put off educating themselves for lack of money or through fear of debt. Labour argued that the Conservatives have nearly trebled tuition fees since gaining power.

The policy is based of the provision of free university tuition in many northern European countries and Labour aim to replicate this in Britain.

A poll by the Higher Education Institute given to undergraduates, suggested Labour were outright favourites, gaining 55% of the votes in comparison to the Conservatives 18%.

Sam Wild, 19, a first-year mechanical engineering student, said: “I agree with Labour’s policy to scrap tuition fees as there should be more concentration on higher education because at that age you specialise more in what you will do in your future job.

“When you are younger, you are spoon fed your education so for Labour to focus their funding on higher education, rather than schools like the Lib Dems have, it is better for the general economy in the long-term.

“However, the only issue I have is that foreign students will come here for a free higher education if Labour wins the election but then may leave to benefit their country instead of the one that spent it’s funding on them.”

Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield are allowed presently to charge up to £9,250-a-year to students.

The Liberal Democrats took another angle when approaching education by focusing £7bn on school budgets.

However, the party will reintroduce maintenance grants for poorer students to help lower income families send their children to university.

The Lib Dems promise a review of higher education finance in the next Parliament to consider any necessary reforms, in light of the latest evidence of the impact of the existing financing system.

Dominic Trendall, 22, the Sheffield Student’s Union President, said: “The union’s long term position is to support free education.”

The Sheffield Union’s policy on education is to campaign for an education system that is free at all levels, accessible to everyone, and funded by a progressive system of taxation.

The Union’s policy also vows to campaign for the introduction of full financial support for postgraduate students, including living grants.

The General Election takes place on 8 June 2017.

Harvey Lewis

First year journalism undergraduate student at the University of Sheffield.

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