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  • Policy
    Article: Sep 29, 2017
    By George Kendall in Lberal Democrat Voice

    Have you ever heard the following?

    "The government should stop subsidising exploitation wages."

    "I work hard for my money. Families on child tax credits need to get up off their backsides."

    If you've canvassed on council estates you probably have. And, no doubt, the #labservatives have too, which is why both of them supported massive cuts to welfare.

  • Vince Cable (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Sep 16, 2017
    By Mark Pack

    What to do about tuition fees? For the Liberal Democrats, there are two frequent political mistakes made when trying to answer that question.

    The first is to misunderstand the political problem from the Coalition years. Nearly all of the collapse in the Liberal Democrat poll ratings in 2010-15 came before the decision to back increases in tuition fees. Although subsequently the issue came to symbolise what many people felt about the Coalition, it was just that - the symbol, not the cause. The damage was mostly done before tuition fee decisions were made.

    The second mistake, which flows from the first, is to think that tinkering with the details of how tuition fees works can bring political benefit. There may be good substantive reasons for wanting to tinker with repayment levels or interest rates. But such tinkering at a level which very rarely cuts through to a public that pays very little attention to politics.

    What's more, being in favour of tinkering a bit leaves the party marooned in that deadly swamp of ineffectual indecision courtesy of being a bit less keen on tuition fees that one major party and rather more keen on them than the other. Who is the target market for that?

    Which is why Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has been wise to look at this issue in a rather different way and float two major changes.

    Further education

    One is to try to switch the talk about funding for post-18 education from being just about universities, to which only a minority - a better off minority no less, go; instead talk about how to better fund post-18 education for everyone, including further education and education later in life.

    That not only reframes the discussion as being about something other than what happened in 2010. It also gives a chance to tackle that bigger problem the first mistake overlooks - that people need to have a clearer sense of what the party actually stands for.

    Talking about good educational opportunities for all helps with that.

    Graduate tax

    Then there is the idea of switching tuition fees into a graduate tax. That's been floated by Vince Cable in one of his pre-conference interviews, with David Howarth (co-author of the core votes pamphlet) tasked to study the details of how to make it work:

    "It is a graduate tax - but people think of it as debt," Sir Vince said.

    "People don't normally think of their future income tax obligations as debt. It's that psychological thing that is quite problematic, and I would quite like to convert it into something that is not just a graduate tax in practice but a graduate tax in name and form."

    He insisted he still backed the principle that "highly paid" graduates should pay the hefty contribution towards their university education rather than "ordinary taxpayers", many of whom have not been to university.

    But he also argued that the £21,000 threshold at which graduates start making repayments for their university education has to be raised and a better maintenance grant system restored.

  • Layla Moran (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Sep 8, 2017
    By Layla Moran MP in The Independent

    It turns out that the childcare on offer isn't free after all. It all seemed like a great idea until the Government realised they were actually going to have to pay for it

    The Government's plans to help parents by offering 30 hours per week of free childcare for 3 and 4 years from 1st September sounded great.

  • John Marriott
    Article: Sep 6, 2017
    By John Marriott - Lincoln, Sleaford and North Hykeham in The Lincolnite

    A grammar school down south has been recently shamed into back tracking on a decision to cherry pick which of its Sixth Formers it officially enters for A levels. It doesn't surprise me at all with the emphasis on league tables that has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. It's largely a 'dog-eat-dog' world out there in today's secondary education, both for students, parents and competing schools.

  • Nick Clegg at Pre School
    Article: Sep 3, 2017

    Nick Clegg says David Cameron blocked expansion in deference to Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre

    The government's childcare record has come under renewed fire this weekend after it emerged that large numbers of children in some of the country's poorest areas are missing out on a flagship programme introduced by the coalition government to give disadvantaged two-year-olds a better start in life.

  • Vince Cable (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Aug 25, 2017
    By Heather Stewart, Rowena Mason and Jamie Grierson in The Guardian

    Prime minister left looking isolated as figures show fewer than 5,000 foreign students stayed on in UK after visas expired

    Theresa May's determination to continue counting foreign students in the government's immigration target left her increasingly isolated on Thursday night, after official figures revealed that fewer than 5,000 a year stay on after their visa expires.

  • University Students
    Article: Aug 24, 2017

    Only 4,600 international students overstayed their visas last year, less than a twentieth of the previous estimates of 100,000, official figures released today have revealed.

    For the first time figures have been published based on exit checks from UK ports, showing that 97 per cent of foreign students left the UK after finishing their studies.

  • Study
    Article: Aug 24, 2017
    By Layla Moran

    I hope students and their families have every reason to celebrate today.

    Students, teachers and schools should be given huge credit for making the best of a very challenging situation.

    A situation of the government's own making.

    They have used students as guinea pigs for the new-look GCSE without sufficient preparation

  • Immigration
    Article: Aug 24, 2017
    By Ed Davey MP

    New figures released today show the number of overseas students overstaying their visas has turned out to be vastly exaggerated.

    Amber Rudd has responded by announcing a review into the impact of foreign students on the UK - but, frankly, that's the wrong response.

    It's time for the government to drop overseas students from official immigration figures.

  • school sign
    Article: Aug 22, 2017
    By Oliver Craven

    The format of education hasn't really changed since Victorian times. Students are still packed into a classroom with a teacher who spends most of their time doing some variation of lecturing to the students, before they then apply whatever they've just heard to some real examples. This system treats everyone equally by treating pretty much everyone the same, using the same techniques and the same curriculum for everyone, regardless of their differences. Liberal Democrats tend to challenge traditional policies, and should challenge the current educational system too. We also tend to look solely to teachers for educational policy but it is also worth listening to the perspective of students.