Labour counts
 
Labour Party Manifesto 2001 - Pledges on Higher Education
 
Higher education – a world leader
 
Higher education brings on average 20 per cent higher earnings and a 50 per cent lower chance of unemployment. It is time for an historic commitment to open higher education to half of all young people before they are 30, combined with increased investment to maintain academic standards.
 
 In 1997 we inherited a system where the number of qualified people able to go to university was capped. Today, the numbers are rising and universities have the funds to expand, with new two-year foundation degrees to offer students the option of a vocationally relevant, high-quality qualification as a way into skilled work or further study. Over the next three years, we will continue to expand student numbers, taking us towards our 50 per cent target.
 
We will maintain university entry standards while intensifying efforts to extend the huge advantages that a university education confers to able young people from all backgrounds. University summer schools, master classes and mentoring support will be offered to potential students from disadvantaged areas through a new Excellence Challenge programme, backed up by £190 million of funding.
 
We will not introduce ‘top-up’ fees and have legislated to prevent them. Since 1997 we have increased university funding by more than a billion pounds a year over the Parliament – and invested considerably more in research. Our new system of university finance ensures that 50 per cent of students pay no tuition fees at all, that no parents pay more than under the old system, and that students pay back loans progressively when they are earning. We will ensure that the funding system continues to promote access and excellence.
 
We will strengthen research and teaching excellence. It is vital that our world-leading universities are able to compete with the best internationally. We will also support world-class research and the development of public-private partnerships. We are determined to ensure that our universities have the freedom and incentives to meet our ambitions for them. Reforms to the inspection system for teaching will slash red tape for higher performing departments.