U.K. Labour Would End Tuition Fees Earlier in Pitch for Young

  • Monday is final day to register to vote in June 8 election
  • Education spokeswoman says plan would cost 9.5 billion pounds

The U.K. Labour Party moved forward a plan to scrap university tuition fees if it wins next month’s general election in a pitch to attract young voters.

The policy would be introduced this year rather than next in order to spare current students and prevent those due to start degree courses this year from deferring their studies in an effort to avoid fees, Labour’s education spokeswoman, Angela Rayner, said on Monday in a BBC radio interview. The cost of the policy is about 9.5 billion pounds ($12 billion) a year, she said.

“We will make sure that as of September, students that are going to university will not have to pay tuition,’’ Rayner said. “It’s a small price to pay when it comes to ensuring that our young people are not saddled with 45,000 pounds of debt when they leave university.”

The Labour pitch is firmly aimed at winning over young voters. Monday is the last day voters can register ahead of the June 8 poll, and the Electoral Commission estimates that about 7 million eligible voters aren’t properly registered. Emma Hartley, the head of campaigns at the commission, told the BBC that while just 4 percent of the over-55s aren’t registered, for those 34 years old or under, the proportion is about 30 percent.

Polls over the past week have indicated that Labour is making inroads into the lead enjoyed by Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives ahead of the June 8 vote, with the main opposition party’s share of the vote consistently rising above 30 percent. The Tories are still headed for a increased majority in the House of Commons, though, the polls suggest.

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