It's all a bit of a political jumble at the moment, so we've decided to help you choose who to vote for in the 2017 general election.

As you’ll be aware unless you spent 2016 under a rock (I wouldn’t blame you, honestly) politics is having a bit of a moment. Whilst it’s tempting to yell ‘OH GOD, NOT MORE POLITICS’ and just sit in the dark with the WiFi turned off and a family pack of cheese puffs, I’m not going to let that happen. So here’s your guide to who you should vote for in the 2017 general election, based on general policies and each party's relationship with students and higher education.

The Conservative Party

who to vote for in the 2017 general election - the conservatives

Tuition Fees: Under a Conservative Government, tuition fees will stay in place. They also pushed through the Higher Education and Research Bill, allowing universities to increase tuition fees in line with inflation every year until 2020. Most universities, not surprisingly, have decided to raise fees. The first increase will be in September 2017, where students will pay £9,250 a year for their degrees.

Brexit: Theresa May seems to be pushing for a hard Brexit. The negotiations could pan out in many different ways, but it’s likely that UK universities will lose much of their EU research funding. The number of EU students coming to study in the UK could also fall if they are required to have visas to study here.

Previous form with students:

  • Oversaw a rise in tuition fees £3,290 to £9,000 in 2010, meaning that the price of a degree (not including loans for living costs) soared from £9870 to £27,000
  • Attempted to introduce a clause in the TEF to create a two-tiered university ranking system, with higher-ranked universities being allowed to charge more than lower ones, effectively forcing students to choose between university prestige and greater debt, or a lower-ranked university and less debt.
  • Scrapped maintenance grants and replaced them with loans

The Labour Party

who to vote for in the 2017 general election - the labour party

Tuition Fees: In the Labour Party’s leaked manifesto, they claim that they will abolish tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants for students after the Conservative Government scrapped and replaced them with maintenance loans in 2016.

Brexit: Labour likely to oppose strict controls on immigration and freedom of movement whilst attempting to respect the issues raised by the Brexit vote. However, Sadiq Khan (Labour Mayor of London) has summed up the general atmosphere by pointing out that people are ‘unclear about the Labour position’ on Brexit.

Previous form with students:

  • Under Tony Blair, tuition fees were first introduced to UK students in 1998, although Jeremy Corbyn himself voted against this.

The Liberal Democrats

who to vote for in the 2017 general election - liberal democrats

Tuition Fees: The Lib Dems haven’t yet announced their policies for tuition fees if they were to come into power.

Brexit: The Liberal Democrats have a strong opinion on Brexit - they wish that the referendum never happened and would like to have a second vote if elected. Part of their recent popularity is with ‘Remainers’ who previously voted Labour but are unconvinced (or just plain confused) by Corbyn’s stance.

Previous form with students:

  • Many students and young people still haven’t forgiven them for pledging not to raise tuition fees, then supporting the rise to £9,000 a year during the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition.

The Green Party

who to vote for in the 2017 general election - the green party

Tuition Fees: The Green Party have pledged to scrap tuition fees and reintroduce the maintenance grant.

Brexit: The Greens were strongly pro-remain in the EU referendum campaign.

UKIP

who to vote for in the 2017 general election - ukip

Tuition Fees: UKIP have pledged to scrap tuition fees for ‘able students’ studying medicine, the sciences, maths or technology

Brexit: No points for guessing the political stance of the UK Independence Party.

So, there you have it! The key players in the general election explained by their direct relationship with the student vote. Of course, when you’re choosing who to vote for, these points will only make up some of the factors that help you come to a decision. But if education is important to you, it’s interesting to see where the parties stand. So hopefully you have a better idea of who you’d like to vote for in the 2017 general election.

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