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The National Union of Students (NUS) has accused the nation's potilitcal parties of avoiding clear statements about the future of UK higher education in their campaigns for the May general election. NUS president Aaron Porter said the parties were “hiding behind” an ongoing review of university funding, due out later this year.
On the important issue of tuition fees, both Tories and Labour have been non-committal. The Lib Dems have pledged to gradually abolish tuition fees for undergraduates until 2016, at a cost of GBP 1.8 billion a year. Both Labour and Conservatives promise extra places, but give little indication of how to finance them.
Labour want 75 percent of the 18-30 age group to obtain a degree or ‘advanced apprenticeship’. They also want to provide mentoring support for all students from low-income backgrounds. The Tories plan to reimburse loans of math and science graduates who go into teaching, to encourage students to pay back loans early. The Tories also aim to set up joint university-enterprise research institutes. Next to the slashing of undergraduate fees, the Lib Dems propose establishing a national bursary scheme based on household income.