Students say Cameron is 'playing fast and loose' with facts on fees

By staff writers
December 9, 2010

Students planning a last minute Central London rally today, as the government desperately seeks to keep its coalition together over massive fee hikes, say Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg are "playing fast and loose with the facts" over the issue.

The Government is proposing that the cap on tuition fees for universities should be raised to £6,000 and that some universities will be allowed to charge up to £9,000 - three times the current level.

There are provisions for poorer students, but campaigners say these are palpably insufficient and will not prevent growing inequality, hardship, and rationing in the tertiary education sector.

Some favour a graduate tax as an alternative, but most believe that higher education, which benefits the whole country, should be funded from general taxation - something the main political parties have backed down on.

A doubling or a tripling of fees is not acceptable, says the National Union of Students (NUS), which is urging all MPs to vote against "these damaging proposals."

Deputy PM Nick Clegg, who made a personal pledge along with other Liberal Democrat MPs to oppose student fee increases is under particular pressure.

Last night, in a BBC television interview, he refused to apologise for breaking his word, and claimed that political necessity, which caused him "regret", was responsible for his complete reversal on the issue.

Elswhere, Mr Clegg has argued that the government's current policy is "progressive" - something his critics describe as "laughable".

Aaron Porter, the NUS President, said yesterday: “David Cameron is playing fast and loose with the facts on fees. Repeated claims that the proposals will reduce the deficit are not supported by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which last week said that they would increase public sector net debt by £13 billion by 2016."

He continued: "Ministers may have had the wool pulled over their eyes but students and their families will not have their intelligence insulted. MPs should do the honourable thing and vote down these damaging proposals. Students are now descending on Westminster to ensure that promises to voters are kept and they are not sold down the river."

“The Prime Minister obscures the fact that the Government is removing 80 per cent of public funding for the university teaching grant and all public funding for arts, humanities and social science courses. Of the £3.6 billion provided by the government for teaching in English universities, £2.9 billion is being removed in one fell swoop, doing untold damage to our economy, culture and society," said Mr Porter.

“The Government have repeatedly claimed that no students would pay upfront fees. In fact, many part-time students will not be eligible for loans, even after today's last ditch concessions to the growing parliamentary rebellion," the NUS President declared.


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