13 July 2016

Where does Theresa May stand on university student issues?

So it seems we’ve acquired a new Prime Minister! But how will Theresa May’s promotion affect young people and students?
theresa mayCredit: Digitalspy
Today, Theresa May will likely begin packing up her things to move into her new digs at 10 Downing Street as the UK’s new PM. But aside from having a wacky taste in shoes and an alleged borderline-obsessive cookbook collection – what do we really know about our new PM?

Today, the Independent did some investigative work into how Theresa May has voted on issues that specifically affect young people and students. Here’s a rundown of their findings, plus a few of our own!

Theresa May on Brexit

brexitTheresa May’s opinion on Brexit has been and remains to be a bit of weird one. She didn’t actively campaign for either Leave or Remain, but (very quietly) claimed to be on the side of the Remain camp.

However, since the nation voted to leave the EU in June, May has declared confidently that “Brexit means Brexit” and has revealed that she intends to get the ball rolling with making the UK’s exit from the EU happen as quickly as possible.

The new PM on student and young people issues

theresa may-min

Income tax on part-time jobs

May has voted in support of part-time workers and lower earners by saying the yearly income threshold after which workers start paying tax (aka the personal allowance threshold) should be increased.

The higher this threshold is, the less likely part-time students have to pay any income tax at all, as it’s unlikely they’ll reach the threshold, which is currently £11,000 per year.

For more information on the personal allowance and income tax for young people more generally, read this guide.

Affordable Housing

Just last month, we reported that a new law is being pushed by the Lib Dems that would prevent estate agencies from being allowed to charge tenants high and unregulated admin fees when moving into a new property.

Theresa May has consistently voted against making changes that restrict how landlords and estate agencies work, but it’s unlikely that her stance on this could affect whether or not the law is still passed. Phew!

However, at a time when the biggest student rent strike is going on, it’s clear that young people need support when it comes to affordable housing. The idea that the Prime Minister is putting agencies and landlords before protecting tenants isn’t great.

International students

theresa may go home vanTheresa May’s stance on immigration is one that’s pretty loud and clear. In January of last year, she tried to put forward a plan where non-EU students would be forced to go home as soon as they’d completed their studies, claiming they should have to reapply from their home countries if they wanted to return to work in the UK, but the move was blocked by Tory leaders.

Another past foiled plan of hers was a controversial billboard campaign where she sent out vans with signs telling illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest” (see image above). The campaign was pulled shortly after commencing.

Controversially, she did move forward with the deportation of tens of thousands of students following a BBC Panorama documentary that revealed some students were involved in an English language test scam.

However, May’s manoevre has since been condemned in court, as she was accused of basing the deportation of students purely on evidence from the documentary and that such evidence was flimsy. As a result, these students could be granted permission to return to the UK and seek compensation.

Tuition fees

Back in 2004, May voted against Labour’s decision to raise tuition fees from £1,225 to £3,000 per year, but then later voted in favour of the Conservative’s move to triple fees to £9,000 per year.

She also chose not to vote against the government’s recent decision to make retrospective changes to student loan terms.

In conclusion

put on a brave faceAdmittedly, the situation doesn’t currently look so hot for students, does it?

However, Theresa May has been quite ambiguous about where she stands on a few issues (perhaps intentionally), so let’s just hope she surprises us all and pulls it out the bag for UK students when she steps up to the job of PM!

Are you a student struggling with any of the issues mentioned in this article? We want to hear from you!

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