The recommendations of the cross-party Diamond Review into higher education funding will put Welsh Lib Dem plans for student support into practice, the party has said today.
The report recommends replacing the subsidies for tuition fees with support for students' living costs. This policy closely mirroring that proposed by the Welsh Lib Dems in their Assembly election manifesto this year. Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM and Cabinet Secretary for Education, has today endorsed the underlying principles of the report on behalf of the Welsh Government.
If enacted, it will be the first student finance system in the UK to properly recognise living costs as the true barrier of access to higher education.
Cadan ap Tomos, the Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson for young people, said:
“As someone who studied under the current system, it wasn't help with tuition fees I needed – they didn't need paying until after I'd graduated and was earning a decent salary. It was with living costs that I needed the most support – despite receiving more than most having come from a poorer family, I still had to work alongside my studies just to make ends meet.
“I'm proud that Welsh Lib Dems listened to students like me when coming up with our plan for student finance – and I'm proud that it's Welsh Lib Dem Kirsty Williams who'll be fighting within Government to secure these much-needed reforms for all students – rich or poor, full- or part-time, undergrad or postgrad.
“It's clear to everyone that the unsustainable system created by Labour and Plaid just can't continue. The fact that both a cross-party panel and students across Wales are recommending our solution be put into action shows that it's the Welsh Lib Dems who are fighting students' corner.”
Mark Williams MP, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, added:
"The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently made the case that the high cost of living is the number one barrier to people accessing university. I am pleased that the Diamond Review has today supported that view.
"I am in no doubt that these proposals put forward would offer Welsh students the most generous offer of support compared to anywhere in the UK. I welcome the fact that Kirsty Williams has today endorsed the principles of the review."