Our students are being priced out of education

The Queen's Speech included changes that would allow top performing universities to increase their tuition fees.
The Queen's Speech included changes that would allow top performing universities to increase their tuition fees.

A recent week in Westminster was filled with tradition as the Queen came to the Houses of Parliament to give her Queen’s Speech.

This Queen’s Speech has confirmed what young people feared. After trebling tuition fees to £9,000 a year, the government are set to increase them again.

Cat Smith - MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood

Cat Smith - MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood

Measures announced in the speech would allow universities in England to increase tuition fees above £9,000 from autumn 2017, if they have high-quality teaching. This is a tax on learning and the Tories will get no support from me as they push ahead with these plans. I know many local parents and grandparents want to see their children and grandchildren go to off to university and debt is one of the biggest concerns you raise with me.

Students today are in more debt than ever, and with this new announcement, alongside plans to scrap maintenance grants, the government is putting an unfair price tag on the futures of young people.

If fees climb even higher young people wanting to go to university would be saddled with tens of thousands of pounds debt. I don’t want to see our young people in a life time of debt and when I get the chance to oppose this hike in fees in Parliament I shall be doing so.

Back in Lancaster I attended the service at the Priory for the new High Sheriff of Lancashire, John Barnett.

The service was in keeping with John’s Jewish faith, the Rev Chris Newlands had clearly given this a lot of thought, and I think that sends an important message that, regardless of your cultural or faith background, you can serve in this historic role. We live in a society with people of many different faiths and some with no faith, yet we should all be able to hold office and have our faith, or lack thereof, respected and incorporated.

Over the weekend I held my regular advice surgery in the library in Lancaster and afterwards made it to Dolphinholme Field Day in time to see the egg and spoon races, sack races and three legged races. There was also an excellent collection of cakes from the newly formed WI in the village. The kids had a great time and it was nice to see the event back after a long absence.