General Election: who’s the most student friendly?

Politicians have ranked bottom place in numerous polls on who we trust, and since the recent MP expenses scandal, it’s become more difficult for people to believe what politicians have to say. However, as they have the power to change the world in which we live in, it’s a good idea to listen to them.

A third of students don’t know who the current Prime Minister is, and half aren’t likely to vote in the upcoming election, a recent poll has found. So here’s a breakdown of the main parties, and why you should vote for them:

Who will get your vote?

Labour define themselves as a ‘democratic, socialist party’, and have been in power for twelve consecutive years, basing their image and policies on fairness and equality. They have pledged to open or commit funding to 20 new university campuses over the next six years, and have increased student grants, meaning over two thirds of students will get a £2,835 grant.

Their website says: “Our challenge is to go even further to support teachers, pupils and parents because we believe in guaranteeing high standards for everyone – not just the lucky few.”

Labour’s opponent, also known as the “Tories”, have a very detailed plan ready for if they come into power after the elections. They say on their website:

“The proportion of young people going to university has scarcely changed in eight years. At the current rate, it would take Labour over a century to meet their 50 per cent target.”

The Tories have proposed many changes to the lives of students, promising to create 10,000 extra university places in 2010, introduce an early repayment bonus on student loans, offer a fairer deal for part-time and mature students and create a clearer pathway from vocational routes into further and higher education.

They also state that they want to give good benefits to students in order to match the high prices of tuition fees.

“We are working on a website to provide people with much better information about the true costs and benefits of going to university and help people choose the course and institution which is right for them.”

Liberal Democrats
Often shortened to the “Lib Dems”, the party propose to put more funding into education and make classroom sizes smaller, if they came into power.

“For those youngsters leaving school, university is getting more and more expensive. To get a degree, young people are saddled with thousands of pounds of debt when it is tough enough to get a job, get on the housing ladder and make ends meet,” said the Lib Dems, a view that is shared by students.

Liberal Democrats stand alone in their beliefs that tuition fees should be abolished and the experience made available to those who currently can’t afford to go to university. However, leader Nick Clegg had to go back on this commitment, turning to a more realistic method: “We’ve developed a plan to phase out tuition fees over the course of the next six years, to ensure this vital policy is affordable even at this time of economic crisis.”

Education is a prominent topic for the main parties in the run up to the election. A recent article published by “The Times” highlighted that the general consensus of students they surveyed was confusion on which party to vote for.

However, some students are very clear on the matter. Pippa Whybrow, International Relations student at the University of Lincoln, says she will be voting for the Conservatives.

“I think David Cameron has the fresh outlook that we all need. It’s clear to see that Labour hasn’t done a good job, just by looking at the state of our country.”

Pippa also knows who she definitely won’t be voting for: “while the Liberal Democrats’ policies all sound very nice, in practice it would be chaos”.

The next United Kingdom general election is due to take place on or before June 3rd 2010.

3 Responses to General Election: who’s the most student friendly?

  1. Nick Parker says:

    The Socialist Party is completely opposed to tuition fees and advocates the re-introduction of a grant system which meets the needs of students’ living expenses.

    I’d strongly disagree with the characterisation of New Labour as a democratic socialist party. In practice, they are neither. Rising inequality, attacks on civil liberties, privatisation on a scale of which Thatcher could only have dreamt, illegal unpopular wars, this is New Labour’s rotten legacy.

    I would also contest your suggestion that the Liberal Democrats are the only party that opposes tuition fees. Their opposition is clearly paper-thin, as was their opposition to the Iraq war (they switched sides when Iraq was invaded and refused to call for troop withdrawal against the wishes of the majority of the population of Britain and Iraq).

    The Socialist Party is standing across the country as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), opposed to the three main parties who seek to cut public services to pay for bankers’ bonuses. Whoever wins the election will do this, and we have to fight this cuts agenda at the ballot box and on the streets.

  2. Keith Brown says:

    In terms of Student Friendly’ let’s not forget who abolished the student maintenance grant. Yes the ‘socialist, equal opportunity’ loving Labour party are responsible for the withdraw of these grants in June 1998. The bunch of hypercritics who had their own education paid for by the state climbed to the top of the slippery pole and promptly pulled the ladder up after the electorate were gullible enough to vote for them. They are the reason that you will leave university which a huge debt. Make sure you express your appreciation at the next election.

  3. The most education friendly party is the Liberal Democrats they are the only party that want to abolish tuition fees, to shrink primary school class sizes to 20, offer a pupil premium to close the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers and slim down the curriculum to give schools more freedom.

    Lib Dem educational policy is tried and tested in Scotland, that is why our Scottish peers pay no tuition fees!

    This is not chaos this is progress.