For those who want to know what the Lib Dem manifesto has to say about young people
Improving support for young adults
We want young people to face the future with optimism and confidence. The education leaving age has now risen to 18, but as children grow, their independence grows too, and the support that education and youth services provide to them and their families needs to adapt. Whether it is supporting people with the costs of travel to college or apprenticeships, or promoting positive images of young people by celebrating their successes: Liberal Democrats are on the side of the next generation.
· Work to introduce a new Young Person’s Discount Card, for young people aged 16–21, giving a 2/3rds discount on bus travel, as resources allow. This will assist all bus users by helping
maintain the viability of existing bus routes and making it easier to open new ones.
· Enable government departments, local Councils and private businesses to add discount offers to the Young Person’s Discount Card.
· Review access to transport for students and apprentices in rural areas where no scheduled services may be available.
· Develop an NHS ‘student guarantee’, making it easier for students to get care and support while at university, particularly those with long-term health conditions or caring responsibilities.
· Promote social action and volunteering at school, college and university and work to raise the status of youth work and youth workers.
· Improve links between employers and schools, encouraging all schools to participate in mentoring schemes and programmes that seek to raise aspiration like Speakers for Schools and Inspiring The Future. In particular, we will seek to inspire more children and young people to follow technical and scientific careers through partnership with relevant businesses.
A world class university sector, open to all
Liberal Democrats have ensured that no undergraduate student in England has to pay a penny up front of their tuition fees. Students in England do not have to pay anything until they are earning over £21,000 per year – a figure which will increase in line with earnings – and over that income, monthly repayments are linked to earnings. This means only high-earning graduates pay their tuition fees in full. We now have the highest university application rates ever, including from disadvantaged students. But we need to ensure higher education is accessible to all those who can benefit, including at postgraduate level. Liberal Democrats in government secured the first ever income-contingent loans scheme for graduate degrees, which we will protect and seek to extend.
· Ensure that all universities work to widen participation across the sector, prioritising early intervention in schools and colleges. This will include running summer schools and setting up mentoring programmes between students or alumni and school pupils.
· Require universities to be transparent about their selection criteria.
· Work with university ‘mission groups’ to develop a comprehensive credit accumulation and transfer framework to help students transfer between and within institutions, enable more part-time learning, and help more people to complete qualifications.
· Improve the Key Information Set and explore the option of a standardised student contract. We will legislate to reform regulation of the higher education sector, improving student protection.
· Establish a review of higher education finance within the next Parliament to consider any necessary reforms, in the light of the latest evidence of the impact of the existing financing system on access, participation (including of low-income groups) and quality. The review will cover undergraduate and postgraduate courses, with an emphasis on support for living costs for students, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds.
An opportunity society | world class education for all
Expanding and improving apprenticeships and further education More people have started an apprenticeship in this Parliament than ever before. As we grow our economy, we must protect and enhance adult skills training and our further education colleges. We need to grow our skill base, especially in the technologies and industries that are most important to our economic future. We want it to become the norm for businesses to take on and train up young people as apprentices in every sector of our economy, and for higher level apprenticeships to be understood as a respected alternative to university education.
· Increase the number of apprenticeships and improve their quality, extending the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers for the remainder of the next Parliament, delivering 200,000 grants to employers and expanding the number of degree-equivalent Higher Apprenticeships.
· Aim to double the number of businesses which hire apprentices, including by extending them to new sectors of our economy, like creative and digital industries.
· Develop National Colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, like renewable energy, to deliver the high-level vocational skills that businesses need.
· Establish a cross-party commission to secure a long-term settlement for the public funding of reskilling and lifelong learning.
· Set up a review into the VAT treatment of Sixth Form Colleges and FE Colleges to ensure fair treatment in relation to the schools sector.
· Work with the Apprenticeship Advisory Group to increase the number of apprentices from BAME backgrounds, ensure gender balance across industry sectors, and encourage underrepresented groups to apply.
· Identify and seek to solve skills gaps like the lack of advanced technicians by expanding higher vocational training like foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Higher Apprenticeships.