Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cambridge MP Takes Students’ Tuition Fees Fight To Government


Julian Huppert MP

MP Julian Huppert has made a personal plea to Business Secretary, Vince Cable to try to save further education funding for Cambridge students.

The students fear that changes to funding for adult learners studying the equivalent of A levels could put people off studying, as a combination of grant and up-front fees are replaced with loans.

Yesterday (Monday, June 25) Julian took a petition signed by the students to Mr Cable urging the government, and in particular John Hayes, the Minister for Further Education, to think again about the changes, which would affect those aged 24 and over.

From 2013 students will be expected to pay 100 per cent of their course fees through a student loan repayable when they earn £21,000 plus, instead of paying 50 per cent up front and 50 per cent via government grant.

The Cambridge students claim the move will not encourage access to education or provide the skills the economy needs and could deter students from learning.

Julian said: “I believe that everyone has the right to an education and that education should be free. I am totally against tuition fees, which is why I voted against the government’s plans to increase university fees and this latest policy is no exception. I am shocked that the last government required these students to pay up-front fees.

“We should be encouraging people wanting to return to education to gain the skills that will improve their chances in the workplace. For some people, progressing from school to A level education is not right for them at the time or simply not an option. They haven’t accessed A level education in the past so they are not costing the country any more money than if they had gone straight onto these courses at 16. If they can go back at a later date and improve their skills, we should be helping them to do so.

“Ending the scandal of up-front fees is good, but I am worried that by removing the government subsidy and expecting adult learners to take out loans we will deter many of them from returning to education. This is detrimental not only for them but for the economy as a whole.”

The full wording of the students’ petition is as follows:
"Adult learners, studying for the equivalent of A levels receive funding from the government towards their tuition fee costs. Plans being pushed through by the Tory-led government could see this support removed for people aged 24 and over potentially doubling tuition fees.

From 2013/14 there will be no public subsidy and the student will be expected to pay 100 per cent of their course fees via a student loan. We do not believe this will encourage access to education or provide the skills the economy needs. This policy will deter students from learning and leave those who do continue with a debt they cannot afford.

We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our MPs to act now to say ‘No’ to fees in further education."