University fees must be abolished now - Howarth

March 3, 2009 10:21 AM

David HowarthCambridge MP David Howarth is demanding the abolition of university fees, not only for full-time students but for those taking part-time courses as well.

He will tell party members and supporters at the Liberal Democrat conference this weekend that students should not have to pay to get their university degrees.

Mr Howarth said that the total amount of money that universities, especially research universities, get from tuition fees is small compared with their overall budgets.

And he has accused the Labour Government of making a huge mistake by introducing tuition fees and an even bigger mistake with top up fees.

"Tens of thousands of students find themselves saddled with crippling debt, at a time when the vast burden of individual debt in Britain is becoming a social problem in itself," he said. "Some students have been put off applying for university and others have felt forced to apply for courses on the basis of the income they will generate rather than their intrinsic value.

He added: "In Cambridge the total university income is something like £500 million, and the net income from fees is less than £20 million.

"The Labour Government made a huge mistake when it introduced tuition fees in 1997. Top-up fees were an even bigger mistake."

He promised: "I will continue to fight against top-up fees and fight for fair funding for higher education."

The move, to maximise opportunities for high education level study and reduce the long-term burden of debt for students will be put to the Harrogate conference on Saturday, March 7.

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