Green Party pledges to scrap tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants

26 April 2017

A Newcastle Green Party candidate wholeheartedly supports three pledges for young people launched by the Green Party today at an event in Sheffield. Alistair Ford, who has been selected as the Green Party candidate for Newcastle East, is a member of staff at Newcastle University and has seen many changes in higher education in recent years. Today's pledge to scrap tuition fees, reinstate maintenance grants and protect students and universities after Brexit demonstrates the Green Party's continuing commitment to young people and education.

Ahead of the national announcement in Sheffield, Ford said:

“Young people, who voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, are being ignored in the Brexit negotiations. Brexit risks their future, with young people being likely to be disproportionately affected and opportunities to study, learn, or work abroad being reduced. I have been lucky enough to work on European research projects and seen the benefits first-hand of collaboration with colleagues across Europe. Losing this would be a disaster for education and research in our country.”

Mark Sleightholm, who graduated from Newcastle University in 2016, said:

“University gave me many great experiences and a degree, but also a lot of debt, and the recent rise in interest rates on student loans, combined with the Conservative's plans to sell off the debt to the private sector and of course Brexit, adds to the uncertainty that graduates face.”

Co-leader Jonathan Bartley and deputy leader Amelia Womack will make the series of commitments to students during a visit to the University of Sheffield [1]. They will be joined by students, members of the Young Greens and Natalie Bennett, candidate for Sheffield Central.

The Green Party will pledge to:

  • Scrap tuition fees
  • Reinstate maintenance grants 
  • Continue the Erasmus programme and match EU funding for universities with a UK equivalent after Brexit

Ahead of the announcement, Bartley said:

“The Green Party is the only party standing up for students and putting young people at the heart of its campaign. Education is a right not a commodity to be bought, and we need a level playing field so everyone can go to university or college, not just the most privileged.

“Young people need a liferaft in the Brexit storm. They are being ignored in the Brexit negotiations, despite having the most to lose, and funding for our universities is under unprecedented threat. The Green Party will not let young people miss out on opportunities to study, travel and work across Europe because of a decision they so emphatically voted against.

“Building a better future for young people is an absolute priority and today we are committing to policies that will help us work towards an open, tolerant society where everyone has the chance to succeed.”

Deputy Leader of the Green Party Amelia Womack said:

“A Green government would ensure that after a deal was drawn up with the EU, the British public would have the chance to vote to remain in Europe. We think that is only fair: you don’t sign a contract without reading it first and neither should the British people be tied to a deal with Europe that they couldn’t vote for. In that referendum, young people would be given a real say over their future because we would lower the voting age to 16. But, if after that people still vote for Brexit, we have to make sure that protections are in place for young people and that is what today’s policy announcement is all about. Ploughing ahead without safeguards is not and cannot be an option.”