STUDENT VOICES: THE LABOUR PARTY

As the future of our country, students deserve better

Exeter has become a thriving student city with the University at its heart, but this Tory-led Government – with Liberal Democrats backing – have given students a raw deal. Generational inequality is rising while young people have borne the brunt of this Government’s cuts.

Trebling tuition fees to £9,000, breaking the Liberal Democrats pledge has piled a huge burden of debt on graduates. The Government have cut 80% cut of the higher education teaching grant – if they had cut higher education in line with the rest of public services, fee increases would have been a few hundred pounds rather than £6,000.

A Labour Government, if elected on 7th May, will reduce the tuition fee cap from £9,000 to £6,000, reducing the burden of debt on our graduates, and increase student maintenance grants by £400, benefitting half of all students to deal with the cost of living at university. Reducing tuition fees will reduce the national debt whilst ensuring our universities remain world leaders. These changes are fully funded by reducing the tax relief for people on very high incomes and pension schemes.

Students in Exeter also face some of the most expensive rents in the country outside London. This is an important issue that the Guild’s ‘Student Manifesto’ has raised. Labour would put a ceiling on rent rises over the course of rent contracts. Too many Exeter students are penalised by unfair and unnecessary agency fees when signing new tenancy contracts through lettings agencies – a Labour Government will make agency fees illegal.

I am concerned that David Cameron has supported adding to students cost through the introduction of mandatory minimum alcohol pricing – this would only penalise the vast majority who drink responsibly and fall hardest on the least well off. The Government should not dictate price rises to the Ram.

As a Labour students group, alongside Ben Bradshaw the local MP we have successfully campaigned to stop Tory-run Devon County Council switching off streetlights in student areas, but future cuts mean this could still happen. If Ben is re-elected as your MP he will continue to fight against this.

The work done by the Students’ Guild and Mind Society on raising awareness of mental health this year has been amazing. One in ten young people experience mental health problems, yet waiting times for mental health treatment have got drastically deteriorated under this Government. A Labour Government will ensure mental health gets parity of esteem with physical health.

I believe in a Britain that is outward looking and plays a positive role in the world – on climate change, international development and security and arms control. I do not want to see our country turn in on itself of flirt with exit from the EU – which would be disastrous for jobs and investment in Britain.

For too long this government have neglected the interest of young people because they think they don’t vote: I urge Exeter students to change that. Go out and vote on 7th May and help me bring in a Labour Government that will stand up for the interests of our country’s next generation.