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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 19:37 GMT
Students outraged at Commons decision
By Justin Parkinson
News Online education staff

Toby Boon
Toby Boon fears a large increase in debt

The waiting is finally over.

MPs have voted in favour of top-up fees, despite a year-long campaign by undergraduates throughout England.

From 2006, students will have to pay up to 3,000 a year for their university tuition.

National Union of Students president Mandy Telford said the fight was "far from over", with the Higher Education Bill still a long way from being passed into legislation.

But at King's College London, the general feeling was more one of despair.

Toby Boon, 22, from Cambridgeshire, studying English

"I'm gutted. This is a disaster for students who are going to come to university after me.

"It's just encouraging a lot more debt and it's going to put people off.

"I don't think the highest fee is going to stop at 3,000."

Kate Tomlinson, 21, from West Sussex, studying geography

Kate Tomlinson
Kate Tomlinson questioned the need to expand higher education

"I think the government is making a big mistake. This won't make more people go to university.

"This discriminates against the middle classes. When people come out of university, they will pay fees according to their background, whatever they are now earning.

"That doesn't seem fair. The government wants to push everyone towards having degrees. Perhaps it should look at things and realise not everyone wants to go to university or should do."

Polly Mackwood, 22, from Somerset, studying English

"I'm not surprised the Bill has got through this stage, but I'm very disappointed.

Polly Mackwood
Polly Mackwood called the vote 'frightening'

"As it stands, my debt when I leave will be around 12,000, because I've had to take out loans to cover my current tuition fees.

"Under the new system, people could graduate owing 21,000 minimum.

"It's quite a frightening thing. By the time you get to your early 20s, you want to think about your first mortgage. You don't want to have to delay that by 10 years."

Rajesh Joshi, 20, from north-west London, studying molecular genetics

"This is really disappointing. I'm not happy that my MP said he would vote against the proposals then changed his mind.

"This has been a massive U-turn by MPs.

"If the maximum 3,000 fee had been charged when I started, it would probably have put me off going to university."

Kirsty Hickey, 21, from south-west-London, studying biological sciences

Rajesh Joshi and Kirsty Hickey
Rajesh Joshi and Kirsty Hickey have campaigned against top-up fees

"Ever since I started university, I've been fighting tuition fees, then top-up fees.

"This will change the face of higher education. Even during the last few years, there have been more rich people coming here, because they can afford it better.

"This is going to make it even worse. The government has betrayed its promises. Who is to say fees won't rise above 3,000 a year?"

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"Many students feel university has become a less attractive place"

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