David Willetts has announced he is planning to keep a cap on university tuition fees.
In a clear sign of growing tensions in the Coalition government, he is set to reject Lord Browne’s most radical proposals for universities – allowing institutions to levy unlimited fees.
At least 30 Lib Dem MPs pledging to stick to pre-election promises and reject Browne’s reforms, threatening defeat for the government, Tory and Liberal ministers are desperate to find a compromise deal.
Keeping the cap might be one way to hold off a Parliamentary rebellion
But it’s not all good news.
Willetts wants to raise the current cap to £7,000 a year – far beyond the reach of most students without loans.
And where Browne wanted to force high-fee, elitist institutions to redistribute some of their cash to poorer colleges, Willetts is dead opposed.
He thinks mainly wealthy students at Oxford and Cambridge should not be subsidising those from poorer backgrounds.
This is a straight sop to his own political base – keep costs down for the rich, and letting their preferred universities keep the cash.
With other institutions unable to levy the full £7,000, removing even Browne’s tiny redistribution means elite institutions will receive the lions’ share of fees income under the new scheme.
Introducing the law of the market to higher education means the richer colleges get richer – while the rest lose out.
Segregation, as a recent Universities UK report showed, will be the result. A tiny minority of universities will have huge resources. The majority will suffer.
We can’t allow our university system to be torn apart.
This weak, divided government can be stopped. The NUS demonstration on 10 November looks set to be the biggest student protest in years – if not decades.
A mass movement can stop this Coalition government dead in its tracks. Join the Coalition of Resistance and come to the founding conference on November 27th at the Camden Centre, Bidborough St, WC1
And join in the debate about education at Education on Trial on November 4th in ULU.
Another fantastic line up of discussion, poetry, video and totally Sh!t Theatre are lined up for your debating pleasure.