In his article, Tim makes the distinction between the NUS pledge against tuition fees, signed by Parliamentary candidates before the General Election (which he intends to abide by), the Liberal Democrat manifesto (which became a negotiating document) and the Coalition Agreement (which contains 65% of the Liberal Democrat manifesto).
Here's an excerpt:
Fees are the poll tax of our generation and I cannot in good conscience vote for an increase. It is not for me to tell colleagues how to vote, but I believe we need to move away from burdening young people with debt. Education should be available to all – not just those who can stomach the debt.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto set out a six-year plan to phase out tuition fees altogether. But let's remember we didn't win the general election, which means our manifesto became a negotiating document. We did an outstanding job of negotiating the coalition: if you comb the coalition agreement you will see that 65% of our manifesto is in it.
The anger of the students is understandable, and I sympathise with it. Seeing thousands of young people engaging with politics is fantastic. My clear message to them is this: the Liberal Democrats are the party of free education – stick with us.
I want to see scrapping fees in our next manifesto. It's great to see that the Scottish Liberal Democrats – who abolished fees when they were in power between 1999 and 2007 – have committed themselves again to keeping Scotland fee-free if they form part of the next Scottish government.
He goes on to point out that the Lib Dems have ensured the abolition of up-front fees for part-time students – who make up roughly half of all students - and highlights the the raising of the payment threshold from £15,000 to £21,000:
Along with a package of other measures, it means that the poorest 30% of graduates will be better off under the new system. Anyone who wants their analysis of the student finance package to be taken seriously has to acknowledge these advances – and that the progressive parts of the package only happened because of the Lib Dems.
You can read the full piece here.
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