Gillian Merron: ‘The current HE system is fairer than ever’

Gillian Merron, Labour’s PPC for Lincoln, tells University of Lincoln students why they should vote for her. This letter originally appeared in The Linc’s last print edition of this year, in March 2010.

Many students in Lincoln today would barely recognise our city in 1997. The last 13 years has seen Lincoln transformed, with over £100 million worth of Government investment in the university alone. Tackling a legacy of Conservative under investment, Labour has made Lincoln University one of the fastest growing universities in the country.

Gillian Merron

I know that some students are concerned at the savings announced at the end of 2009, but they must be seen in the context of a decade of record public investment. universities will have to do their fair share of belt tightening, but no more. That is why I am particularly concerned to hear that the University of Lincoln is exploring cutting bursaries – and I want to assure students that I am taking this issue up with the vice-chancellor Mary Stuart.

As students will know, the Government has launched an Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance which is about ensuring that the future of funding and student support is based on evidence and facts – the review is underway and its conclusions, should not be pre-empted.

But I appreciate that students want to know where I stand on the important issue of finance and who gets a chance to go to university.

The current system, in my opinion, is much fairer than it used to be. Full-time graduates no longer pay fees upfront, and there has been a significant increase in the student support available. Not only are more young people going to university, and more young people from poorer backgrounds going to university, but thanks to the huge investment in our state schools there are more young people qualified to go to university.

I want a system that is fair, that brings the widest range of people into University, particularly those who backgrounds wouldn’t have naturally brought them there, like myself the youngest of a big family, from a council house in Dagenham – and a system that maintains our universities and students as amongst the best in the world.

This election, students have a real choice about their future and the future of Lincoln.

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