Higher Education Fees

Part of Consolidated Fund Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:26 pm on 9th December 2010.

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Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Conservative, Reading West 3:26 pm, 9th December 2010

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. A graduate tax would mean that poorer graduates paid more and richer graduates paid less, which is neither fair nor progressive. A graduate tax would also be a tax for life, rather than the maximum period of 30 years in the proposed scheme.

The coalition's proposed system is fair. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that it is more progressive than the current system, and the Opposition have proposed no system at all. It is fair to all taxpayers that students, who will on average earn significantly more than non-graduates in their lifetime, make a contribution to their education after they graduate; it is only fair to full-time and, now, part-time students and their parents that they do not have to find any money up-front; and it is fair because graduates will pay less per month than do they under the current system.

I hope that, rather than playing grubby politics with the aspirations of a generation of students, the Opposition will be honest with students and taxpayers. I hope that they join us in offering students increased opportunity and a greater stake in their own education, instead of raising false expectations that an as yet unexplained utopian alternative exists. I urge all Members to support the regulations.