Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are desperate to say the threshold of repayments means university debts aren’t a barrier. They’re wrong and dismissing the concerns of millions of young voters.
The Conservatives are panicking over one of their biggest mistakes – underestimating young voters. In 2010, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives both thought attacking students wouldn’t damage them too much politically so they made young people pay the price of the failing of previous generations. Student fees were raised to some of the most expensive in the world (and on many courses, students do not even get value for their money) but now young people have mobilised against them, and rallied around Corbyn. It’s causing terror to the Conservatives.
To try and recapture “the youth vote”, the Tories unsuccessfully launched a grassroots campaign that was supposed to rival Momentum, but was really just an embarrassment. They’ve also tried to rectify their mistakes around university fees without admitting any guilt, responsibility or addressing concerns. As a result, the threshold for repaying back fees is set to rise. It’s a policy that’s a complete waste of time.
Politicians are keen to try to say that they’ll support students – but that students don’t actually need support. They’ll talk about how they want to make it easier for students to go to university, but while saying that university is accessible to everyone anyway. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats just don’t get it.
“The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats just don’t get it”
For one thing, student applications have actually gone down this year so clearly something is putting students off. But the most essential thing, is that in their smugness over their Coalition, the Tories and Lib Dems completely disregarded mental health, but that is no surprise from a tag team that cut mental health services by 8%.
Student debts may be repayable when earning a wage but it is still stressful. The cost of living is rising, rents are extortionate and it’s hard enough for graduates to get adequate jobs in the fields they’re actually trained in, but then they have to face repaying off gigantic loans they should never have been required to take. The system is a sick joke.
At Russel Group universities, since the fee increases there was a 28% increase in students seeking counselling. Mind, the mental health charity, even attributed this rise partially due to the trebling of fees. It’s also been found that students who are concerned about their levels of debt are more likely to be depressed and develop a dependency upon alcohol. Furthermore, The Guardian interviewed one student this year who has £69,000 worth of debt. Loans, as well as their interest rates, are causing huge concerns for young people. When politicians say that loans are nothing to worry about because of the threshold levels, they are completely out of touch and erasing the mental health crisis among students.
Student debt has to be taken seriously by all the major parties. Debt anxiety and stress is eating away at aspiring students who have a right to an education. Higher education should be accessible for all, and students shouldn’t be burdened with debts they don’t deserve or stress no other generation has had to go through. Most of the politicians in Parliament went through university when fees were non-existent. What right do they have to lecture students on how to approach tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt?