"If the current tuition fee and income-contingent loan repayment system in England were to be scrapped, the gap would need to be met in full from other sources of public finance. If not met in full, it could cause damage to universities' ability to deliver a world-leading experience for students, to the country's skills base, to social mobility and to our universities. As the Institute for Fiscal Studies has pointed out, getting rid of the fee and loan system would also be of most benefit to wealthier graduates.
"We would also need assurances that there would not be a cap on the number of student places. If the country is to thrive, particularly in the light of Brexit, it needs more, not fewer, skilled graduates. The benefits of getting a degree remain clear for individuals and for the economy and society.
"Applications to university have continued to increase and there is no evidence to suggest that the graduate repayment system in England has deterred students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2016, the number of 18-year olds applying to university hit record numbers and entry rates for young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds are at their highest levels. We must continue to monitor this, and also address the decline in part-time and mature student entrants."
The Labour Party's 2017 general election manifesto is available to download from their website.
Universities UK published recently its five priorities for the next government ahead of next month's general election. They are: 1. Securing an effective post-Brexit settlement for universities; 2. Supporting universities in their role as anchors for growth in local economies; 3. Increasing funding for science, research and innovation to match our competitors; 4. Supporting world-leading teaching, student experience and improving outcomes; and 5. An effective immigration system.