General Election 2017 – What will each party do for students, universities and young people?

Like it or not, politics affects us all – including the UK's student population. However, in 2015 just 43% of 18–24 year olds (the age range of most students) turned out to post their ballot – a decrease from 44% in 2010.

We hope that this figure increases massively on Thursday 8 June, so we've summarised each party's main policies that will affect students, universities and young people in general.

Once you've read through each party's offerings, take part in our poll to let us know who you'll be voting for.

Click to skip to:
Conservative Party • Democratic Unionist Party • Green Party  Labour Party  
Liberal Democrats • Plaid Cymru • Scottish National Party • UK Independence Party

Conservative Party

Conservative Party logo

Higher education policies

  • Ask universities and independent schools to help run state schools.
  • Work to build up the investment funds of universities across the UK.
  • Require universities that wish to charge the maximum tuition fees to either sponsor academies or help found free schools.

Other policies of interest to young people

  • Cut net migration to below 100,000 people per year.
  • Increase the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020.
  • Hold a vote in both Houses of Parliament on the final Brexit deal.
  • Make it easier for mobile phone customers to know when they have paid off the cost of their handsets.
  • Intervene with legislation if there isn't enough progress in reducing the "disproportionate use of force" against black, Asian and ethnic minority people in prison, secure mental health units and young offender institutions.
  • Aim to have the lowest energy costs in Europe, for both households and businesses.
  • Build one million homes by the end of 2020, and 500,000 more by the end of 2022.
  • Ensure there is no referendum on Scottish independence before the Brexit process is complete, or before there is enough support from the public for a fresh vote.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) (Northern Ireland)

DUP Logo

Higher education policies

  • Introduce a digital skills revolution in schools, colleges and universities to ensure young people are ready for the modern economy.

Other policies of interest to young people

  • Restore the devolution of power to Northern Ireland.
  • Increase the national living wage.
  • Increase the tax-free personal allowance.
  • Continue to reduce energy bills.
  • Create 50,000 new jobs by 2021.
  • Ensure 4G mobile coverage across Northern Ireland, and be at the forefront of future 5G investments.
  • Fight for the best deal possible for Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations, including a frictionless border with the Republic of Ireland.

Green Party

Green Party logo

Higher education policies

  • Scrap university tuition fees.
  • Fund full student grants.
  • Increase public investment in further and higher education.

Other policies of interest to young people

  • Phase in a four-day working week (maximum 35 hours).
  • Abolish zero hour contracts.
  • Bring back Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
  • Hold a referendum on the Brexit deal (including the option to remain in the European Union).
  • Reduce the voting age to 16.
  • Introduce proportional representation for parliamentary and local elections.
  • Bring mental health care in line with physical health care.
  • More funding for sexual health awareness campaigns, including improved access to free condoms and sexual health clinics.
  • Build affordable zero-carbon homes, including 100,000 social rented homes every year by 2022.
  • Require the members of boards of all public companies and public sector boards to be at least 40% female.

Labour Party

Labour Party logo

Higher education policies

  • Abolish university tuition fees.
  • Reintroduce maintenance grants.

Other policies of interest to young people

  • Ban zero hour contracts, ensuring workers get a guaranteed number of hours each week.
  • Raise the Minimum Wage to £10 per hour.
  • Ban unpaid internships.
  • Reinstate housing benefit for anyone under the age of 21.
  • Ensure that 60% of the UK’s energy is from renewable or zero-carbon sources by 2030.
  • Bring the law on LGBT hate crimes into line with race and faith hate crimes, by making them aggravated offences.
  • Four extra public holidays each year to mark national patron saints' days.

Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrats Logo

Higher education policies

  • Reintroduce maintenance grants for the poorest students.
  • Establish a review of higher education finance to consider any necessary changes. The Lib Dems say this is in response to evidence regarding the existing system’s impact on access, participation and quality, and to make sure that there are no retrospective increases in repayment rates, or sales of loans to private companies.
  • Promote international collaboration between universities.
  • Ensure that all universities work to widen participation, with a greater emphasis on their work with students in schools and colleges, and a requirement to be transparent about selection criteria.
  • Fight to retain access to the Horizon 2020 and Marie Sklodowska-Curie research funds.
  • Reinstate quality assurance for universities applying for degree-awarding powers.

Other policies of interest to young people

  • Hold a referendum on the Brexit deal (including an option to remain in the European Union).
  • Introduce a legal and regulated market for cannabis, with limits on potency and licensed outlets selling to adults over the age of 18.
  • Increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years.
  • Abolish the prison sentence for possessing illegal drugs for personal use, instead imposing civil penalties and offering treatment and education. The Lib Dems have also pledged to focus on catching and prosecuting those who manufacture, import or deal drugs.
  • Reduce the voting age to 16. 

Plaid Cymru (Wales)

Plaid Cymru Logo

Higher education policies

  • For students who remain in (or return to) Wales after graduating, Plaid Cymru is pledging to create an incentive to remain in the country rather than go elsewhere in the UK.
  • Demand that Welsh universities are properly funded and represented at a UK level.

Other policies of interest to young people

  • Guarantee employment, education or training for anyone under the age of 25 who is looking for work.
  • Increase the availability of Welsh language education from nursery through to further and higher education, as well as adult learning.
  • Introduce a Wales-wide transport system.
  • Roll out 5G mobile signal across Wales.
  • Make ultra-fast broadband available to all of Wales.
  • Ensure all European Union funding to Wales is replaced by the UK government. 

Scottish National Party (SNP) (Scotland)

SNP Logo

Higher education policies

  • Guarantee to continue offering tuition-free university education to Scottish students.
  • Protect the non-means tested bursary for midwifery and nursing students.
  • Call for the full reinstatement of the Post-Study Work Visa scheme for international students. The UK government had previously scrapped the scheme and introduced a pilot that doesn’t include any Scottish universities.
  • Work with universities to seek clarity from the UK government regarding what will replace the research funding currently supplied by the EU.
  • Support the continuation of programmes such as Erasmus+ to allow Scottish students to study in Europe with ease.

Other policies of interest to young people

  • Hold a second referendum on Scottish independence once the Brexit process is complete. Should Scotland choose to be independent, the country should be an EU member state.
  • Ensure there are no selective grammar schools in Scotland.
  • Extend early years education and childcare to 30 hours per week for all three and four year olds, as well as vulnerable two year olds.
  • Protect free personal and nursing care.
  • Plan for an alternative to austerity, releasing approximately £120 billion for public spending across the UK over the next parliament.
  • Ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia, pending an investigation.
  • Introduce proportional representation to replace first-past-the-post for Westminster elections.
  • Continue its housing policy in Scotland, which builds houses at a higher rate than anywhere else in the UK.
  • Continue to cut carbon emissions, and push the UK government to do the same.
  • Seek equality law to ensure that same-sex couples have equal pension rights.

UK Independence Party (UKIP)


Higher education policies

  • Abolish tuition fees as soon as economic conditions allow. In the short-term, UKIP have pledged abolish tuition fees for undergraduate students of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
  • Cover the cost of all tuition fees for medical students.
  • Restore maintenance grants immediately.
  • Stop offering student loans to EU nationals once Brexit is complete.
  • Increase the number of medical school training places from 7,500 to 10,000, and ensure no suitable A-grade student misses out on a place.

Other policies of interest to young people

  • Open a grammar school in every town.
  • Introduce specialist counselling services in all secondary schools.
  • Consider whether or not new legislation is needed to tackle online abuse.
  • Introduce employability lessons into the careers syllabus.
  • Introduce mental health into the teaching-training syllabus, and integrate emotional health and wellbeing into the Ofsted inspection framework.
  • Remove VAT from women’s sanitary products.
  • Increase the tax-free personal allowance to at least £13,500.
  • Tighten the rules on zero hour contracts, and heavily limit their use.
  • Reduce net migration to zero over a five-year period.
  • Triple the maximum jail sentences for animal cruelty.
  • Bank holidays for the saints’ days in England and Wales.
  • Introduce a proportional electoral system.

Who will you be voting for?