Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said his dream of attending university would be stopped “cold in its tracks” today due to the cost.
The Opposition leader, who studied law at Leeds University before postgraduate studies at Oxford, said students are being forced to decide on their future due to financial issues.
His comments, reported in the Daily Telegraph, suggest the Labour Party could announce packages to help students with finance if they win the next election.
Sir Keir said: “There wasn’t any spare money knocking around to fund me going to Leeds.
“I worked before I went and then got by on grants, as many young people do. I vividly remember carefully calculating rent, bills and food.
“Going to Leeds to study was a turning point for me. It will be a deep betrayal if one of the legacies of this Tory Government is university, apprenticeships and skills becoming the preserve of the wealthy.”
He said would-be students being denied opportunities due to costs “should shame the Conservatives”.
“Tory economic failure choking off the dreams of the next generation is a deep betrayal of aspirational Britain,” he said.
“Talent and aspiration should drive young people – not the affordability of rent, or soaring food prices.
“I vividly remember the excitement of moving to Leeds to study law. It was a financial stretch then. If I were a student today, I wouldn’t be able to go.”
Sir Keir faced criticism in May after confirming that Labour is set to “move on” from his commitment to abolish tuition fees.
Referring to the cost-of-living crisis sparked by soaring inflation, he said at the time: “We are likely to move on from that commitment because we do find ourselves in a different financial situation.”
Tuition fees were first introduced under Labour by Tony Blair at the maximum price of £1,000 a year.
Now fees are a maximum of £9,250 per year, with the current system introduced by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition in the face of severe opposition from students.