The uni fees and loan system works to an extent - people have massive loans forced on them but they only have to pay them a bit at a time when they're earning a good wage - it's already a graduate tax in all but name! It also means one less thing to fund from elsewhere; you can only raise a certain amount from tax evaders and banks as suggested elsewhere. It's popular to say "scrap the fees" but it would be costly to do so and Labour, with this policy, should help fix the major problems with the current system (still not perfect, but it'll be better).
There's two major issues with the current system that
Labour are effectively fixing. Firstly, the levels at which the fees are
at means that billions will almost certainly be written off after 30
years losing the taxpayer money so, in fact, reducing the fees by £3,000
could actually be good for the taxpayer (unlike what the Tories say!)
Secondly the maintenance grant/loan isn't really high enough for those
on poorer incomes to go to university with - Labour will raise it by
£400 which sounds like little but it will make an important difference.
Labour have correctly identified and admitted that university just
isn't for everyone - some people do badly academically and don't want to
continue school as it were! University should cost the students
something because it isn't compulsory and it shouldn't be necessary to
get a good job. Indeed, most of the time the degrees offered at uni
don't teach you anything that will be useful for the job; they just
differentiate some people from other people, effectively showing one
person has spent more time learning an unrelated subject!
the issue above, Labour will introduced vocational (read: actually
useful) qualifications and, critically, guarantee apprenticeships by
forcing companies holding a government contract to offer
apprenticeships. Unlike other forms of education - you don't have to pay
for an apprenticeship and it's directly relevant for whatever job you
want to go into.
In fact, I am about to go to uni myself, and I
am happy to pay a price in my future life for it. If I wanted, under
Labour's policies I'm sure I could get an apprenticeship as an
accountant and work into a profession that way - as I want to be a
politician or lawyer and have more academic backing I will get a degree,
but I don't mind there being a cost since I didn't HAVE to get the
Also, Ed remembers what happened to the Lib Dems when
they pledged to remove fees - they ended up trebling them and now tell
off Labour for pledging to reduce the fees by the same amount the Libs
pledged last time (by £3000). He's not going to make the mistake of
making an expensive promise he can't keep - however reducing them a bit
and increasing the maintenance loan and increasing the relevance of
degrees and increasing apprenticeship provision are all things that WILL
make a difference for my generation.