Conservative prime minister Theresa May has pledged not to raise university tuition fees from the current £9,250 a year, and promises to review the whole student loans set-up, including the possibility of bringing back maintenance grants (tough luck on those who’ve just missed out), and re-defining student debt as a ‘graduate tax’.
May has also said that in the near-term the threshold for existing student loan repayments will rise from £21,000 to £25,000 – saving the average UK graduate £360 a year.
The prime minister’s announcement has been branded as ‘desperate’ by Labour – the party that seemed to promise to scrap fees and then denied ever having said so.
Another initiative aimed at younger voters is the pledge to extend the Help-To-Buy scheme (the Government-sponsored scheme which assists first-time home buyers).
But will these policy announcements woo young voters, or do they further demonstrate how out of touch the Tory party is with young people?
Michael Hull, an Anthropology student at the University of East London, remained firmly unconvinced. ‘It’s all just a trick to convince students to vote Conservative,’ he said. ‘Nothing is really going to change, it’s still ridiculously overpriced and students will still be in mountains of debt. They’re just trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.’
If the Tories have been trying to buy the youth vote, this sounds more like ‘no sale’.
Some students I asked had no idea about the recent suggestions coming from the Tory party. Their general disengagement from anything to do with politics, seemed to be an even bigger problem for the prime minister to tackle – even more than young people’s distance from the Conservatives in particular.
Message to you, Theresa: considerable room for improvement; must try harder.