Would Labour scrap university tuition fees?

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image copyrightGetty Images
image captionStudents demonstrated against the introduction of tuition fees in 2010 and 2011

Labour has been dropping hints that it plans to scrap university tuition fees if it wins the general election.

The party has announced a range of education policies, but no definite commitment on fees - so far.

English universities can charge up to £9,250 a year with varying arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Estimates suggest that scrapping tuition fees in England could cost up to £11bn.

What are the clues?

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Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn first announced a plan to get rid of tuition fees shortly after being elected in 2015.

He said he wanted to "apologise on behalf of the Labour party" to students who'd had to pay fees and received loans instead of grants.

More recently, during a campaign speech in Mansfield last month, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Labour believed education was "a gift from one generation to another."

He added; "And yes, it means scrapping tuition fees once and for all so we don't burden our kids with debt for the future."

Then this morning, Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner dropped another hint: she said she "didn't want to give too much of the manifesto away."

But when pressed on the issue, said: "Watch this space".

image copyrightDan Kitwood

Why might they do it?

For a party trailing in opinion polls, a promise to scrap tuition fees would generate significant interest.

Labour would claim it demonstrates their commitment to govern for "the many not the few".

There's also the fact that in previous general elections, a large proportion of younger voters have supported Labour. So scrapping fees may be popular with them.

The policy would fit with their promised National Education Service, which it claims would be "free at the point of need".

How would they pay for it?

Estimates for the cost of scrapping tuition fees range between £7bn and £11bn.

Originally Jeremy Corbyn suggested funding the policy with a rise in national insurance, but that has since been ruled out for people earning less than £80,000.

Labour has said it would fund the education policies it has announced so far with £19.4bn raised from an increase in corporation tax (a tax on companies' profits).

image copyrightDan Kitwood
image captionLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he wants to "transform" the schools and education system.

Where do the other parties stand on this?

The manifestos, in which parties set out what they would do if they won the election, have not yet been published.

So far, the Green Party have pledged to scrap tuition fees.

The Liberal Democrats have announced £7bn extra funding for schools and colleges over the next parliament.

The Conservatives have accused Labour of making "made-up promises" on education.

Ukip has previously promised to scrap tuition fees with an added aim of reducing the number of people studying degrees.

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