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David Lammy's national service plans are an insult to every student

6 December 2009

UCU today said that plans to fund a national service-style civilian scheme, paid for by increasing student debt, were absolutely ludicrous.

The union said it was horrified that wildly inaccurate figures were being used to justify the plans and absolutely furious that higher education minister, David Lammy, had given the scheme his backing.
David Lammy, and both the Labour and Conservative parties, have hidden behind a forthcoming review into university funding to fudge giving a position on university tuition fees. The union said it found it quite incredible that the minister could now come out and back a scheme that would be funded by increasing student debt - something that clearly pre-empted the funding review.
The 'Service Nation' report from the think tank Demos says that the £450m a year required to run the scheme would be raised by increasing the rate of interest students pay back on their loans. A move questioned by UCU who pointed out that the government was currently trying to flog the student loan book off to the highest bidder. The report justified charging higher interest by claiming graduates earned on average £600,000 more over their lifetime than non-graduates. The union said it had never seen those figures and said they sounded 'wildly inaccurate.'
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'We are absolutely stunned that David Lammy is backing a scheme that will see student debt increase. The minister has said he would not pre-empt a review of student funding, yet today he has pre-empted the review of student funding. Is this a case of someone not reading a report, but happily chasing a headline? His comments are an insult to every student.
'I have no idea how Demos can claim graduates earn £600,000 more than non-graduates over their lifetime. The government had to admit recently that figures much lower than that were out of date. How Demos thinks the figure has risen as we have more graduates and a more competitive job market is beyond me. Furthermore, if that really was the case, they would be paying a hell of a lot more back in tax. We will be filing this report in the crank file and suggest others do too.'

Last updated: 11 December 2015