Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew R T Davies appearing in last night's "Ask the Leader" BBC TV debate.

Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew R T Davies appearing in last night’s “Ask the Leader” BBC TV debate.

The Penarth Conservative Assembly Member Andrew R T Davies – talking about student grants in a BBC TV debate – has told the audience that he left school at 16  – and that Welsh Labour’s proposed tuition fee subsidies are “unaffordable”.

The Welsh Labour Party – aiming to continue its unbroken 19 years in power in the Welsh Assembly – has already ruled out introducing means-testing for university tuition-fee grants if the party is re-elected next month.

Last night in a special BBC TV programme Andrew R T Davies – who is Leader of the Welsh Conservative Party and is standing for the South Wales Central constituency  – which includes Penarth –  said Labour’s tuition fee subsidies were “unaffordable”.

Currently students from Wales studying in universities here or elsewhere in the UK only have to pay the first £3,810 a year of their tuition fees. The outstanding balance of up to £5,190 a year is paid for them by the Welsh Government – but the costs are imposing a crippling burden on the Welsh Government’s education budget.

Davies says that living costs are a bigger barrier to higher education than tuition fees and that if elected the Conservatives would replace the tuition-fee grants with “rent subsidies” instead but conceded that students “would end up with less” . He emphasised however that all the parties recognised that no Welsh Government could afford to continue with the present system – which will soon be costing taxpayers £250,000,000 a year – or   £1,250,000,000 over 5 years.The Conservative scheme would cost £400,000,000 over 5 years

Andrew R T Davies said “All parties know that the current system is unaffordable.”

Some of the studio audience listening to last night's debate

Some of the studio audience listening to last night’s debate

Davies told the TV audience “I’m not someone who had free higher education. I left school at 16. So ultimately what I want to see is parity with vocational education and academic education – and it is a fact that if you have a degree you will earn more in the workplace. But one thing students keep telling us is that one of the biggest obstacles when they go to university is the cost of living and those up front costs that they cannot meet” 

The Conservative proposals are to pay – in advance –  half of the rent of students from Wales, wherever they study in the UK – but support would not be paid for those living at home with their parents whilst studying ut means testing for university tuition fee grants if the party remains in power after the election in May.

Plaid Cymru, and the Welsh Liberal Democrats  also want to get rid of tuition fee subsidies and UKIP wants to cut them whereas the Green Party is calling for  university education everywhere in the UK to be free.

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  1. Christopher David says:

    Firstly we should only send the top 15 – 20% to university (assessment of need an ability needed) . Those with academically tuned brains and talent that are going to add value. Then we the tax payer could meet the cost and households that can’t afford university could send their children as well as the rich. It goes further- those with the ability to further their university education find they may have to find £25 – £35,000 PA + support costs for post grads to do masters in subjects that benefit us all. This discriminatory. It shouldn’t be just the rich and maybe less clever that can achieve masters and PhD’s. Failing to do this is one reason we have public school kids who’ve never had a proper job running the country!
    After the second year of senior education those set to go to university should take the relevant classes. Those not should continue with maths and English but drop the other subjects. They can always go back to them when they’re earing adults. The schools should then set the non academic on vocational courses in order they leave school with the skills to get a real job or go onto further vocational training in the workplace. This business of “equality” and higher education for all is a nonsense- more overly PC rubbish to appease the woolly minded and cut the youth jobless figures, the latter which is counter productive. Those not cut out for university education will not suffer, they will benefit and so will society. In fact some will go on the be very successful entrepreneurs creating jobs and wealth. Mainstream education is not for all and often doesn’t suit those with high intelligence but no traditional academic leanings.

    • Peter Church says:

      Come on Councillor Rappier, RT Davies’ name is in the article and you have not posted your long winded fire side chats yet.
      As for University Education, same methodology as those you want all children to have above average education.

  2. Sick of the same old politicians says:

    Left school at 16 to do what exactly? He’s a farmer right so did he go into the family business. While I believe that most kids with degrees are no better educated than those of us who did leave school with several O levels try getting a job these days with GCSEs.

    • pompousfruit says:

      I agree. Leaving school with 0-Levels in the 70’s is now equivalent to leaving school with A-Levels or even getting a degree now.

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