As political campaigning resumes after the horrific attack in Manchester, HEPI is focusing on what the manifestos of the three biggest UK-wide political parties have to say on higher education.
The main announcements are shown in the table below. Three things stand out:
- A real choice is being offered. On issues like financial support for students, international students and university sponsorship of free schools, there are some real differences. This has not always been the case on higher education at past elections (for example, in 2010, both the Conservative party and the Labour Party looked ahead to the Browne review reporting rather than setting a clear future course).
- Some of the policies may prove very difficult to deliver successfully. Delivering lots of student places and well-funded universities while abolishing tuition fees would be difficult, as would maintaining the full strengths of the higher education sector while making it harder for legitimate international students to arrive in the UK.
- Some of the commitments may turn out to be more significant than they at first appear. Things that look like asides in manifestos can sometimes turn out to be very important. There are pledges here, most notably perhaps the Conservative commitment to review all ‘tertiary’ education funding, that could turn out to be more important than is widely recognised.