Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham today joined students across the country who have reacted with anger at the Government’s decision to allow Universities to charge tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year.
When living costs such as rent and food are taken into account, many young people can expect to incur debts of £40,000 or more by the time they graduate. Following today’s statement, Alex said:
“I am appalled that the Government, including Liberal Democrat MPs who specifically pledged during the General Election Campaign to vote against any rise in tuition fees, is prepared to burden our young people with this sort of debt.
Following the publication of the Browne Report many young people from my constituency contacted me with their concerns about the potential increase in tuition fees. Now we have heard the Government is prepared to support a huge rise in fees and I am sure I will hear from many more young people outraged at this decision.
I specifically asked the Minister for Universities, the Rt Hon David Willetts, whether medical students, who must spend at least five years at University, would receive any special support from the Government. Young people who aspire to enter the medical profession must not be put off a career in medicine through fear of building up huge debts. The Minister failed to give me a reassuring answer.
The Government should look again at these proposals. They want to cut Government funding for Universities and make up the short-fall in funding by handing future graduates the bill. Our excellent Teesside University, the University of the Year, will have its teaching grant from Government slashed from £45 million to £14 million, whilst Durham with a campus in the Stockton Borough sees a cut from £51 million to £19 million.
My worry is that this significant increase in tuition fees will mean many able young people decide not to go to University. That would be a tragedy for those young people as individuals and a tragedy for the British economy which needs excellent graduates to compete in our global economy.”