Why a Conservative victory is good news for students

Chase Smith 10 May 2015

Few will be shocked that I am delighted by the results of the general election: for the first time in my life, the Conservative Party has won a majority, and I feel hopeful despite the dark and difficult days ahead.

The election night was incredibly dramatic. I was lucky enough to spend part of the morning with CULC, and despite feeling disappointed at the election of Daniel Zeichner, I was also very happy for the Labour Club.  Considering the student vote swung the result, I’m sure he will do his upmost to represent student opinions, although I doubt I will personally agree with him very often. Thankfully my own vote helped to elect a Conservative MP in my constituency of Elmet and Rothwell, preventing a Labour swing.

Now that we’ve all caught up on sleep, we need to assess the impact of five more years of the Conservatives’ long-term economic plan on our lives.

The primary concern for most of us at Cambridge is what life will be like for students over the next five years. Few have forgiven the increase in tuition fees, but I have. True – I pay three times more for my degree than my boyfriend did because I matriculated later, but I am comforted by the fact that provisions are in place to support less privileged students like myself as we start to pay back our loans.  Measures such as writing off the debt after 30 years or not paying anything until we earn £21,000 alleviate the burden of higher fees and have seen more working-class students benefit from the privileges of higher education.  Additionally, the Conservatives have implemented loans for post-graduate students, ensuring that those who cannot fund our further education privately or obtain scholarships still have the opportunity of pursuing the studies they love.

However, the majority of us will not be in Cambridge at the time of the next election. The next five years are formative in our lives and the Conservatives have policies in order to help us be successful in whichever path we choose after graduation. For example, employment will continue to be a priority in the coming years. According to the Office of National Statistics, the coalition generated the highest employment on record, at 29.7 million. Continued growth in job creation is wonderful news for graduates concerned about finding employment in the next few years.

Additionally, we will find ourselves in a stronger financial position as a result of lighter taxation. Leaving university can be a difficult process, especially for those who cannot return to their family home. Graduate schemes are often not well paid, and certainly in the first five years of employment most of us will not be earning high amounts.  It is good news then, that the single person’s tax-free allowance will increase to £12,500 under this government, saving basic-rate taxpayers £80. Ideally, most of us will earn above this amount, but this policy goes some way toward alleviating the financial pressures of post-graduation life, especially once we begin to pay back student loans.

Finally, in the next five years many of us will begin the search to purchase our own homes. The Conservatives have pledged to construct 200,000 new Starter Homes, which will be available at 20% below the market price for first-time buyers under 40. This is fantastic news, considering the competitive real estate rates in both Cambridge and London, both destinations for many graduates. Personally, I don’t feel this goes far enough, and there will be debate about what more can be done. Nevertheless, this initial step goes some way to benefiting our lives once our colleges no longer provide us with accommodation.

It’s not going to be easy for the Conservatives. Our majority is small and we have serious issues to tackle. However, I am reassured that during the many milestones we will reach in the next five years, the Conservative Party will be doing all it can to support us.