Labour to scrap tuition fees for students starting in September
Jeremy Corbyn announces plans to abolish £9,000-a-year charges – including for EU undergraduates in UK
Labour has brought forward the timetable for its pledge to scrap university tuition fees to this September, announcing that students starting courses this autumn will not have to pay if it wins the election.
In a speech later today, leader Jeremy Corbyn is to say that Labour will "lift this cloud of debt and make education free for all as part of our plan for a richer Britain for the many not the few".
In addition, the party will seek deals with EU nations to provide free education for foreign students in return for the same treatment for Britons studying abroad.
If the plan was put into action, students starting a new course in September this year would have their first year's £9,000 fees written off retrospectively in order to encourage them not to defer their course a year.
Students already at university would not have to pay from 2018, meaning those starting the final year of a course in September this year would be the last to pay for their degree.
Announcing the policy alongside Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, Corbyn will say: "The Conservatives have held students back for too long, saddling them with debt that blights the start of their working lives.
"We will scrap tuition fees and ensure universities have the resources they need to continue to provide a world-class education.
"Students will benefit from having more money in their pockets, and we will all benefit from the engineers, doctors, teachers and scientists that our universities produce."
In response, the Conservatives have said that more people from less-well off families and backgrounds are going to university now than ever before, reports the BBC.
Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who dropped his party's manifesto pledge to abolish tuition fees while a member of the coalition government, also criticised Labour's plan.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, he said that instead of wanting "loads of free stuff", young voters want to talk about Brexit. He added: "I personally think it is the wrong choice now [to drop fees]."
His comments were met with accusations of "hypocrisy" on social media, says the Daily Telegraph, adding that in 2010, Clegg had said: "I really think tuition fees are wrong."