Labour to scrap FE tuition fees for adults

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says the party would also bring back the EMA and grants for HE students if it comes to power in next month's general election

Stephen Exley

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Labour would scrap tuition fees for "adult learners looking to re-train or upskill" and increase FE course funding if it is elected, the party has pledged.

This evening, party leader Jeremy Corbyn will announce plans to introduce “free, lifelong education in colleges” as part of its commitment to “create a society run for the many not the few”.

Under plans which it says will be funded by the £20 billion raised by reversing the Conservative Party’s cuts to corporation tax, Labour says it will:

  • Increase the adult skills budget by £1.5 billion so it will reach £3 billlion a year by the end of the Parliament - up from almost £1.5 billion at present. This is "in order to abolish upfront fees and increase course funding by an average of 10 per cent year on year”.
  • Restore the education maintenance allowance (EMA) for college students. The EMA was scrapped by the Coalition in 2010. Labour estimates that reinstating will cost £582 million a year.
  • Bring back student grants for higher education students. It says this is expected to cost £1.63 billion next year, rising to £1.8 billion by the end of the Parliament.

'A downward spiral'

Mr Corbyn said: “People of all ages are being held back by a lack of funding for education, and this in turn is holding back the economy by depriving industry of the untapped talent of thousands of people.

“The Conservatives have… cut support for students and forced colleges to increase fees. It’s created a downward spiral that is bad for the people being held back and bad for the economy.”

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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