Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:53 UK

Students threaten to 'shame' politicians over fees

Student funding
There will be no decision on fees until after the election

Students are threatening to shame politicians who refuse to take a stand against any rise in university tuition fees in England.

The new head of the National Union of Students (NUS) Aaron Porter has urged students to continue to campaign against a lifting of the cap on fees.

More than 700 candidates for the general election have signed an NUS pledge against a rise.

The NUS says students, their families and the public are against an increase.

Students from England currently pay tuition fees of £3,225 a year.

That maximum level is fixed at least until after the outcome of a review of student funding being carried out by Lord Browne.

His report is not expected until the autumn, but at hearings in the past few months there were calls from business leaders and others for students to contribute more to the cost of their education.

Mr Porter was elected as the new NUS president at the union's annual conference in Gateshead on Wednesday.

He said he was "delighted" to lead the union in what he called a "critical year for further and higher education".

"This is a time to continue pressurising politicians not to increase the cap on fees and we will be publicly shaming those that refuse to sign our 'Vote for Students pledge', which has already been signed by more than 700 candidates.

"Students, families and the wider public overwhelmingly oppose higher fees and I will fight to ensure that politicians listen to them."

CURRENT FEES
England: £3,225 p.a.
N. Ireland: £3,225 p.a.
Scotland: free to Scots, £1,775 to other UK
Wales: £1,285 to the Welsh, £3,225 to other UK
Students from elsewhere in the EU pay the same as those locally
Those from outside the EU pay whatever the university charges

The NUS pledge calls on politicians to vote against any increase in fees during the next parliament.

Among those who have signed it, the union says, are nearly 200 Labour candidates, more than 300 Liberal Democrats and 10 Conservatives.

Labour and the Conservatives are not being drawn on whether tuition fees should rise, saying they want to wait for the outcome of the Browne review.

The Liberal Democrats say they would phase out, over six years, fees for first-time degrees, but would scrap immediately fees for students in their final year.

In February, the NUS said it was targeting MPs who held seats in a "hit list" of university cities in England.

It identified 20 "student battlegrounds", including Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Reading, Cambridge, London, Southampton, Bristol, Leeds and Oxford.

Mr Porter will take up his post in June, taking over from Wes Streeting.



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