Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Students Debt Could Rise to £40, 000

By Ben Aulakh

Student fees could be set to triple, to around £9000 per academic year, under plans announced today by the coalition government.

In the wake of the review into university funding, which recommended that current fees cap of £3, 290 per year be scrapped, the government could allow institutions to charge nearly three times that figure.

The Universities Minister David Willetts said that the basic threshold for fees will be set at, £6000, with higher education providers able to charge £9000 only in exceptional circumstances.

However some undergraduates could end up graduating with debts - from a top university – of close to £40, 000; this figure could be further exacerbated by higher interest rates on student loans.

Business Minister Vince cable appeared to contradict his coalition partner; appearing on Channel Four news he said that a “substantial minority of universities will go above the £6000 level.

Though he added, “I don’t know how many universities will go above the threshold; he also admitted that the “policy was deeply unpopular.”

The agreement by the Liberal Democrats to raise tuition fees goes against one of the party’s key election pledges, that the current system would be scrapped in favour of one that was more fair.

However there are rumours within the party that Lib Dem MP’s could be given permission to abstain from the vote, without fear of losing their parliamentary jobs.

Aaron Porter, NUS President responded to plan, “These proposals would remove public funding for universities and force students to shoulder the bill for devastating cuts to teaching.

“The only things that students and their families could expect in return for higher fees are higher debts.”

“Many Liberal Democrats would have felt incredibly uncomfortable as they heard David Willetts' statement today knowing that they are being asked to railroad these proposals through Parliament and to betray the students and their families who voted for them.”

Photograph by Paul Clark

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