The Boar talks to Lynnette Kelly, Labour Party candidate for Leamington and Warwick in the 2015 General Election.
The Boar (Samantha Hopps): I want to talk mainly about student policies, so I guess we could start with university fees. Labour has pledged to drop tuition fees to 6000, do you want to talk about that?
Lynnette Kelly: Yes, and it’s important to know that that’s not the end of it. What we’ve been doing is talking to lots of young people about what’s important to them, because there’s been a lot of feeling in the Labour Party that young people’s voices are not getting heard in this election.
Very high on the list for young people, and not just students, has been university fees, and there’s been a feeling that some people are thinking very carefully about whether they want to go to university at all, because the level of debt that you leave with is so huge.
to leave university with £40,000 of debt, it’s a big thing hanging over you. It’s not what I want for my children and it’s not what I want for other people’s children.
The first thing we’re going to do is reduce university tuition fees from September 2016, down to £6,000 instead of £9,000, but that’s going to be part of a review of higher education spending and funding altogether.
I don’t need to do studies, my daughter’s just left university, she went to Reading, and she was on the £3,000 fees, because I’d have been saying to her “think twice with £9,000 fees”.
When I went to university as a mature student and did my degree, that’s when they first brought out loans, and it was a £1,000 a year tuition fees, and that was manageable, but now to leave university with £40,000 of debt, it’s a big thing hanging over you. It’s not what I want for my children and it’s not what I want for other people’s children.
Something like two-thirds of students will never repay the full amount of their loan. How can you have a system where you put people into debt that they are never able to repay? It’s ludicrous
With the current system, I know that it actually costs the government more money to charge £9,000 fees than the £3,000.
Something like two-thirds of students will never repay the full amount of their loan. How can you have a system where you put people into debt that they are never able to repay? It’s ludicrous, and it’s costing more money than it should. It has to be changed.
But it would be wrong for us to say we’re going to do this and this and then get into government and do the research and find out it’s not going to work, because that’s what the Lib Dems did. They promised you they would get rid of tuition fees, and they got into government and said “oh dear, we’re going to have to make them £9,000 instead”. And that destroys your faith in politicians. It’s more important that we’re honest with you.
It’s more important that we’re honest with you.
Anything to deal with graduate job market and overcrowding in universities?
A few things. First of all, we want to get rid of unpaid internships. Internships are great for getting a bit of work experience so you’ve got something real to put on your CV, and help you get into work. Too often, it’s people from very wealthy backgrounds, who are able to do an unpaid internship for a long period of time. We need to change that so that everyone’s got an equal chance. There’ll always be someone who’s got an advantage because of family links, but we need to level the playing field as much as possible so it’s not just the very wealthy who can do the things that make you more able to get the highest paying jobs.
I think if there’s work experience and it’s only for one or two weeks and it’s unpaid, that isn’t an issue. It’s when it gets beyond that you really need to be getting paid otherwise it’s only the very wealthy who can afford to do it.
We need to make sure you get proper careers advice in the first place so you know what your options are when you’re doing a degree, and that needs to start through school.
we need to level the playing field as much as possible so it’s not just the very wealthy who can do the things that make you more able to get the highest paying jobs. So we need to get rid of unpaid internships
What do you think about quotas/targets in schools?
There was a place many years ago for targets, personally I think we’ve gone beyond there, I think that we don’t raise standards by sending in inspectors to tell schools what they’re doing wrong, we raise standards by supporting schools to be better and looking at what is good, looking at good practice, and sharing good practice.
Read interviews from the other candidates here;