By Jenny Kassner
The government is to face opposition and disapproval of students as it announces its plans for the future of higher education today.
At the House of Commons, universities minister David Willets, announced that Tuition fees in England will be kept at £9,000. The lowest threshold is £6,000. Universities charging more than £6,000 will have to prove that they are doing all they can to attract students from poorer backgrounds as well.
[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=nick+clegg&iid=10052709″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/10052709/students-queue-senate/students-queue-senate.jpg?size=500&imageId=10052709″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]Universities charging the highest possible fee will have to show to the Office of Fair Access that the university is progressing positively. If they fail to do so, they will have to pay back the extra funds they gain through the increase in tuition fees. This money will then be put toward to schemes that are successfully providing an increased access to higher education.
“The Government have completely failed to explain what students would receive in return for higher fees other than higher debts. Students and their families will simply not be fooled by rebranding of plans to triple tuition fees to foot the bill for funding cuts. They will also be justifiably believe that requirements on access, employability, quality or the student experience would be just as toothless as they are now”, Aaron Porter said in the official NUS statement on the government’s announcement.
The Lib-Dems have attracted a lot of disapproval from its student voters, after their u-turn in their higher education policies. Despite his election promises to vote against any raise in tuition fees, Nick Clegg is now backing the increase in fees. Aaron Porter, the NUS president, told BBC News that 15 Lib-Dem MPs have confirmed to rebel against the raise. “If Liberal Democrats were to keep the pledges they made to voters then proposals to railroad a tripling of tuition fees through Parliament would be dead in the water.”
The increase in tuition fees in England will also have severe consequences for Scottish students, as NUS Scotland declared. “The impacts in Scotland will be huge. Increased fees will force Scottish students studying in England into crippling levels of debt and will fuel calls for English students studying in Scotland to pay much higher fees. Worse still, the staggering 80% reduction in funding for universities will be passed on to the Scottish Parliament’s own budget”, said Liam Burns, president of NUS Scotland, “millions of students across Scotland are now relying on the Liberal Democrats to save them from these proposals.”
NUS declared that they are ready to protest against the government’s plans and to campaign against those Liberal Democrats that vote for an increase in tuition fees.
A detailed government plan will be released before Christmas this year. The proposed changes in university funding and tuition fees are planned to become active in the academic year 2012-2013.