England's Tuition Fees Policy Will Cost Billions, Says Welsh Academic; 'BOGUS ECONOMICS' SHOWN UP IN RESEARCH, CLAIMS MP

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Byline: DAVID WILLIAMSON

ENGLAND'S tuition fees policy could end up costing taxpayers more than pounds 100,000 a student, a Welsh academic has warned.

The analysis by Hywel Williams, a senior lecturer at the University of Glamorgan business school, has raised fears that "bogus economics" are at the heart of the UK Government plans to have English students pay fees of up to pounds 9,000.

Loans will be written-off after 30 years and Mr Williams has calculated that interest payments will may well accumulate at a greater rate than students will be able to make repayments.

He expects that taxpayers will face a bill of billions of pounds in 30 years.

Owen Smith, Labour MP for Pontypridd, is sending copies of Mr Williams' research to Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Mr Smith said the work "formalises what many of us instinctively felt about this ill-thought through policy."

He said: "Having received this research, I have written to Lib Dem Secretary Vince Cable asking him to respond to Mr Williams' research and to explain how, in light of these findings, he can possibly consider the policy sustainable. What this research confirms is that not only is the trebling of fees deeply regressive, deeply unfair and an inequitable barrier to higher education but it is also based on bogus economics and is completely unsustainable.

"This research gives a further reason why the Labourled Assembly Government should be commended for firmly rejecting the coalition's higher education policy, choosing instead to protect Welsh students and helping to ensure that educational choice is based on ability and not affordability."

Under the UK Government plans, students will only start repaying fees once they start earning more than pounds 21,000.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills argues on the "myth buster" section of its website that students will not be "saddled with a lifetime of debt."

It states: "A graduate earning pounds 25,000 per year would repay their loan at a rate of pounds 6.92 per week. If earnings fall, then the repayments will fall as well.

"Graduates won't have to pay back anything until they are earning more than pounds 21,000 a year. The pounds 21,000 earning threshold will be uprated annually in line with earnings from April 2016. Any outstanding payments will be written off after 30 years. If you are in lower paid work or unpaid work (which may include time bringing up a family) you won't be asked to make a contribution. …