We are keeping a roving eye on the higher education policies of the smaller political parties as the 2015 general election approaches. We have already covered what Ukip is promising on this blog and the Green Party’s higher education policies have been usefully covered in some detail by Wonkhe.

One very small party pitching for the student vote is the Young People’s Party (YPP). They have recently published the following policies on higher education, which we are reprinting so people know where they stand:

  • We as a society need graduates, especially in the fields of applied science (biology, medicine, chemistry, engineering, statistics etc); research for research sake (physics); and for teaching future generations (the three R’s, science and some social science and arts subjects to round things off). But we do not need an arms race where people will take meaningless degrees merely in order to improve their chances of getting a job.
  • The UK government/taxpayer can afford to spend £13 bn a year on higher education (under 1% of GDP) and as an economy, we can’t afford not to. That would cover the full tuition cost for over 1 million UK students.
  • Instead of 38% of school leavers going to university and being saddled with student loans of nominal £27,000 for the tuition fees of a three year degree, it would be better for around 25% of school leavers to go to university – for ‘free’ – to focus on studying what the country as a whole needs.
  • A core part of YPP’s manifesto is for there to be a Citizen’s Income (non means tested, non-taxable, non-contributory) for all working age British citizens, equal to Income Support rates (currently £72.40 per week). Students would be entitled to this the same as anybody else, and this is considerably more generous that the savagely means-tested maintenance grants and loans currently on offer.
  • Every student should have the possibility of living in low-cost student accommodation for a capped rent of £50 per week (outside London; perhaps up to £80 a week for London where space is at a premium) if they do not want to or cannot sensibly stay at home. This would involve the construction of several thousand units (bed sits or studio flats) in purpose built blocks, the cost of which will be minimal and which would be recouped out of the future rental income anyway.

Although the YPP’s share of the vote has risen in each election it has contested, it has had very modest success to date.  They are currently poised to have two candidates at the election: Mark Wadsworth in Epping Forest and Dr Rohen Kapur in Folkestone and Hythe.

PS: In response to Hepi’s new election briefing document, the Leader of another smaller political party, Lord Toby Jug, has emailed us as follows: ‘You’ll be pleased to know that my party, The Eccentric Party Of Great Britain, will build taller buildings for higher education once we’re elected to power.’ (Though he doesn’t say what this will mean for Hefce’s capital budget…)

Hepi is an independent registered charity and this blog entry should not be read as an endorsement of the YPP or any other political party. In particular, we do not endorse the argument that only one-in-four school leavers should go to university.