Thursday, 4 November 2010
NUS and UCU are jointly organising a national demonstration – 'Fund Our Future: Stop Education Cuts' - to take place on Wednesday 10 November 2010.
Ordinary people will be forced out of university education under plans revealed by ministers today to make students pay £9,000 a year in tuition fees.
Universities Minister David Willetts announced proposals to raise the tuition fee cap to £6,000 a year with institutions able to charge up to £9,000 in "exceptional circumstances" from 2012.
Students currently pay £3,290 a year in tuition fees and the proposals would mean graduate debt effectively doubling or trebling.
Mr Willetts was responding to former BP boss Lord Browne's review published last month which called for the cap on tuition fees to be lifted.
National Union of Students president Aaron Porter swiftly slammed the "dangerous" plans for saddling a generation with huge debts before they have even found work.
He joined Labour leader Ed Miliband in hitting out at Liberal Democrats who gave pre-election "cast-iron guarantees" to oppose any increases in tuition fees.
An NUS report also warned that the plans would put off as many as 80 per cent of students from going to university altogether.
Massive cuts to the teaching budget announced in last month's spending review will mean the majority of universities' teaching money will come through fees.
University College Union general secretary Sally Hunt said: "The extra fees being forced on students and their families is money universities are being denied by government.
"It's a simple case of robbing the public to plug a government funding gap."
Under the proposals students will start repaying their loans at 9 per cent of their income at a real rate of interest when they earn £21,000 - up from the current £15,000 threshold - with outstanding loans written off after 30 years.
Mr Willetts also confirmed that students wanting to pay off their loans early would be hit by a financial penalty as the government is "committed to the progressive nature of the repayment system."
And he added that institutions charging over £6,000 would be required to offer outreach activities and financial support to attract poorer pupils, although unions believe these measures are merely an attempt to stave off Lib Dem rebellion.
Teaching union ATL spokeswoman Carly Prout dismissed government claims that its decision supports students from lower economic backgrounds.
"It is clear that by increasing fees more students will be cut off from higher education," she stressed.
National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower added that the plans were "not a level playing field by any stretch of the imagination" and will hit the poorest hardest.
The announcement comes as Universities Scotland director Alastair Sim called on Holyrood to make Scottish students pay a contribution towards the cost of their degrees after graduating to address looming spending cuts.
A national demonstration against education funding cuts will hit London streets next Wednesday 10 November 2010.