Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Lower Fees Would Only Help High Earners, Says Lib Dem

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Lower Fees Would Only Help High Earners, Says Lib Dem

Article excerpt

MP urges his party to use funds for bursaries and to keep goal to scrap fees. John Morgan reports

A Liberal Democrat MP and university researcher has criticised Labour for considering a plan to lower tuition fees to £6,000, while urging his own party to retain the goal of scrapping fees completely.

Julian Huppert, the Cambridge MP regarded by some as a rising star in the Lib Dems, said public funding should be used for student bursaries rather than for immediately lowering fees when he spoke at the party's conference in Glasgow this week.

Meanwhile, Vince Cable, the business secretary, criticised the Conservatives by warning that their "absurd" net migration target is discouraging overseas students from coming to UK universities.

Mr Huppert, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, voted against allowing fees to rise to £9,000 in 2010, but may still face a tough battle to hang on to his seat in a student-heavy constituency.

Speaking at a fringe event on higher education hosted by Million+ and the National Union of Students on 6 October, he said of £9,000 fees: "The problems that I thought there might be have not happened. We are getting more people applying to university."

Although he continued that "there's a question whether that's a good thing or not", he said that having "more people from poorer backgrounds applying to university" was undoubtedly positive. "I didn't think that would happen - the evidence clearly shows I was wrong," Mr Huppert said.

Nonetheless, he added on the fees system: "Personally I would still like to get rid of the whole lot. …

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