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More strong evidence of Labour’s tuition fees blunder

Welsh Conservatives have welcomed today’s interim findings of the ‘Diamond Review’, which confirm the party’s long-standing criticism of Labour’s ‘unsustainable’ tuition fees policy.

 

An ‘interim report’ on Professor Ian Diamond’s Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance Arrangements in Wales has today summarised evidence received, ahead of its full publication next year.

It includes a ‘strongly held belief’ that ‘the current HE sector funding and student finance regime in Wales is not sustainable into the future’.

It also concludes that ‘many respondents were strongly of the view that, in light of sustainability concerns, there is a need to revisit the tuition fee grant policy – an even handed response was noted’.

Calls for a renewed focus are also published, with ‘a strong consensus that the level of maintenance support is inadequate to cover actual costs incurred by students and that this is a bigger issue for students than the level of tuition fees and tuition fee support’.

Welsh Conservatives have long labelled Labour’s tuition fees subsidy ‘unsustainable’ and called for a new approach.

These views have recently been echoed by Universities Wales, the Learned Society of Wales and in a report commissioned by the University and Colleges Union, which also called the policy ‘unsustainable’.

As a result of this policy, tens of millions of pounds are leaving Welsh universities and heading to English institutions every year. In all, 3.6 billion pounds was set aside by Labour ministers to fund the scheme.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Education, Angela Burns AM, said:

‘We welcome the review’s interim findings, which confirm what we have always said; Labour’s policy is entirely unsustainable.

‘This blunder has always been a misguided vanity project and the evidence against it continues to pile up.

‘We’ve always known that this policy is completely unworkable – and Welsh Conservatives are committed to replacing it with a progressive system of living cost support to enable students from all walks of life to get to university.

‘Living costs are a far bigger barrier to accessing HE and a constructive plan to help students in this area is key.

‘Labour’s current policy only serves to gather vast amounts of Welsh public money and dump it at the front door of English universites. All the while, our HE sector continues to struggle. It’s unfair – it’s disadvantaging Wales – and it’s got to stop.

‘I welcome this report and I praise Professor Diamond’s ongoing commitment.’