AS THE TORIES fall apart trying to find a higher education policy they can all be happy with, Labour has sent out a firm message about what action needs to be taken to encourage students from all walks of life to go to university and contribute to society once they have their degrees.
The row in the Tory Party became public when former Education Secretary Justine Greening MP spoke out on Radio 4’s Today programme. She said, among other things, that the Government should bring back grants for less well off students – which they had abolished only last year.
Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, responded to those comments, saying, “Justine Greening’s criticism is a huge blow to an already floundering Prime Minister. For a self-confessed supporter and ally to publicly attack Theresa May’s policies reveals a Prime Minister losing more and more support in her own party.
“Justine Greening is absolutely right that her own party’s decision to abolish maintenance grants was wrong and that it is the most disadvantaged families and students who have suffered. With her Universities Minister today ruling out any changes to tuition fees, Theresa May’s review is clearly a way of kicking the issue into the long grass rather than making the decisions needed, meaning yet another cohort of students will start university courses paying huge fees.
“If Justine Greening wants to bring back maintenance grants and abolish tuition fees, she should join Labour in voting for it. Labour has a fully costed plan to support students by restoring both EMA and grants, as well as abolishing the Tories’ fees entirely.”
Students in Tower Hamlets will be delighted to see confirmation that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Government will restore EMA – modest grants for students staying on in education post 16. These were introduced by the last Labour Government – which piloted them in Tower Hamlets. They were a great success in helping students stay in sixth form or college – and were therefore rolled out nationally. EMA grants were abolished by the Coalition Government. Shortly afterwards, Cllr Lutfur Rahman was elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets. He began a local scheme to ensure that Tower Hamlets youngsters did not lose out under a Government they had not voted for. The local EMA grants were halted by John Biggs when he became Executive Mayor.