Like many students, the Liberal Democrats are instinctively open and tolerant in our outlook and optimistic about the future. We are passionate about creating a thriving, modern, fairer country in which every young person has the opportunity to reach their full potential. We have lived and breathed these liberal values in government - introducing equal marriage; leading the fight against climate change; creating new, high tech jobs; and defending Britain's influence in the world.
In the future, we will go even further to remove the barriers that unfairly hold back young people. We will give every young person a two thirds discount on their bus travel and put mental health on an equal footing with physical health.
Specifically for students we have some great polices, although let's get it out the way, everyone knows the Liberal Democrats couldn't deliver our policy on tuition fees. The truth is both Labour and the Conservatives supported higher fees, and as we did not win the General Election, we were unable to carry out our promise without backing from either of the two other parties. Although that's no excuse, we are proud that we made sure the system was as fair as possible.
Nobody pays a penny for university tuition fees until they have graduated and are earning over £21,000. How much you pay depends on how much you earn after. And all graduates repay less per month than under the old system. If you lose your job or earn less than £21,000, you pay nothing at all. After 30 years, any remaining debt is wiped off.
Because of the way we have designed the system, the poorest 30 per cent of graduates pay less overall than under the old system. Liberal Democrats made sure that the new system came with fee waivers, bursaries, a National Scholarship programme and higher maintenance grants for people whose parents earn less than about £42,000. Universities now have to provide much more information about things like contact time for lectures and tutorials and the jobs that graduates go on to, so students can make an informed choice."
Here are our top five policies for students:
1. Transform young people's mental health services
Young people who are suffering from mental health problems - from eating disorders to behavioural problems - need help fast, or their whole lives can be affected. We will transform the NHS's "CAMHS" service for children and adolescent mental health, ensuring children and young people can get high quality care, close to home, where they can stay in touch with family and friends.
2. Two thirds off bus travel
We will work to introduce a new Young Person's Discount Card for people aged between 16 and 21, cutting the cost of a bus ticket or bus pass to just a third of the standard fare. This will help everyone who relies on public transport: it will get more people onto buses and help keep more bus routes going, especially in rural areas.
3. Put nature at the heart of government
We know how important it is to ensure that you live in a green and healthy Britain, whilst you're in university and when you leave.
We will pass a Nature Act to put the Natural Capital Committee on a permanent, legal footing. The NCC will set targets for cleaning up our air and water, improving habitats for wildlife and plants, and increasing reuse and recycling - targets the government will be required to meet.
4. Protect your freedom and equality
University can sometimes be a tough place to live and work in. We will work to stamp out homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and legislate to make homophobic and transgender phobic chanting at football matches illegal, like racist chanting is. And, when you leave university we will pledge to end the Gender Pay Gap, requiring companies with over 250 employees to publish information on the difference between the pay of men and women in their staff.
We will legislate for a Digital Bill of Rights, to define and enshrine our rights online. The Bill will include the right to free expression, privacy from inappropriate use of our data by government and the private sector, the protection of consumers from unfair terms and conditions, and the ability to control data that is held about us. So you can surf the internet safely and privately.
Finally we will create a second Freedoms Bill. Our Bill will tighten the regulation of new technologies like CCTV and biometrics, protect free speech and public interest journalism, prevent heavy-handed policing of demonstrations, introduce a ban on high-frequency Mosquito devices which discriminate against young people, and cut back on the petty over-regulation of everyday life.
5. Job creation and Growth
When you're in university everybody is always asking, "So, what are you doing to do afterwards?" Many of you will hope to get a good and stable job and that's why we've helped businesses create over 1 million new jobs and are working to create a million more. We've also tried to make sure that we are building a stronger economy. We have taken the tough decisions to clean up Labour's mess, and thanks to these choices, we are now beginning to see the economy recover and growing confidence.
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