Tuition fees: what Lib Dem members think now (2 of 3)

by Stephen Tall on January 11, 2011

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 660 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results over the next few days.

It’s almost three months since Lib Dem Voice last asked party members what they thought about tuition fees. So we asked three questions to gauge members’ views now the dust has settled … a little.

Part I: Demonstrations against the fee rises

Part II: 51% to 49% backing for Coalition’s policy on tuition fees …

LDV asked: The Coalition Goverment voted to increase the cap on university tuition fees to £6,000, rising to £9,000 in exceptional circumstances. Students would not have to pay the fees upfront, but would instead pay using student loans that they would have to pay back as graduates once they were earning £21,000. Wealthier graduates would have to pay a higher interest rate on their loans. Do you support or oppose these proposals?

  • 51% – Support
  • 49% – Oppose
  • (Excluding Don’t know / No opinion 6%)

By the slimmest of margins, a wafer-thin majority of Lib Dem members back the Coalition’s tuition fees policy. Here’s a sample of comments received, first in opposition:

This will hit middle income students incredibly hard – paying back loans is already a burden, and there is a mistaken assumption that all graduates are high earners.

Sorry but our MPs from pampered backgrounds simply do not comprehend the disincentive debts have to people from backgrounds wherer “thousands of pounds” are simply not part of life.

Whilst I know that Vince Cable has come up with a package of measures that are fairer that Labour offered, and that the Conservatives would have delivered on their own, the simple fact is that we campaigned at the election on a platform of a different sort of politics. We made a pledge. We should have stuck to it.

Free education is a right. No deals. No compromise. No means testing (which is effectively what this does). Fallacy that graduates earn more (I wish)

And then from those who back the Coalition policy:

I am happy that Lib Dem Ministers fought for and won major concessions on the Browne Report. It was right that they voted for the proposals and I would have done the same if I were in their position. Lib Dem MPs who voted against or abstained won no concessions for students, who would have been in a far worse position had 19 Lib Dem MPs not sacrificed their personal reputation by breaking their pledge and fighting tooth and nail against the uncapped tuition fees proposal in Labour’s Browne Report.

I see these proposals as the best we could achieve, I would prefer universities and other post 18 education training to be funded from central taxation, however I don’t see this happening.

The rich may more, the poor pay less. It is the most progressive policy the govt have brought in.

Very qualified support: I would prefer to have implemented Lib Dem policy, but this is probably the best deal that was achievable.

  • Over 1,300 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 662 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 3rd and 9th January.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll