The British public is divided over Lord Browne’s recommendation to remove the current limit on university tuition fees, our poll shows. The proposal could see universities charging upwards of £7,000 per year in fees from 2012.
- 45% of the population oppose the recommendation, while 37% support it.
- 46% of the population say that Liberal Democrats are wrong to abandon their earlier pledge not to increase fees, compared to 41% who think it is the right decision for the Lib Dems to support the Browne report.
Browne’s plan suggests that there should be no upper limit on university fees, sparking fears that poorer students and families on middle incomes will be forced out of more prestigious institutions. Students would not have to pay the fees upfront, but pay them back as graduates once their salary reaches £21,000 (compared to the current £15,000 cut-off point). All students would be entitled to flat-rate maintenance loans of £3,750 per year, and grants for poorer students would rise to £3,250 per year.
Deputy PM Nick Clegg has suggested to Lib Dem MPs that Lord Browne’s recommendations could provide a ‘fair and sustainable’ model of future university funding.
But before the general election, Lib Dems agreed to abolish tuition fees, with MPs publicly signing pledges not to support any increase.
Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell yesterday revealed he will honour his pledge to oppose the proposed rise. ‘My credibility would be shot to pieces if I did anything other than to stick to the promise I made,’ he said.