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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 10:33 GMT
Top-up fees vote: Your reaction
MPs in the House of Commons

Tony Blair has narrowly won the vote in a crunch House of Commons test of his controversial plans to introduce university top-up fees.

The Higher Education Bill was backed by 316 votes to 311 after days of intense campaigning by ministers and rebels.

Mr Blair had staked his authority on winning the vote, which was widely seen as his biggest test as prime minister.

Earlier, John Prescott had warned rebel Labour MPs that they face a straight choice between Labour and the Conservatives.

What do you think about the outcome of the vote? Send us your comments.

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

If Tony Blair had planned to do this all along, why wasn't he just honest about it in his manifesto? Although I suppose "debt, debt, debt" doesn't really have the same kind of ring to it.
Rhea, Plymouth, England

Stop moaning and pay your way, there are more benefits from going to university than you can ever imagine
Jim, England
Having spent the last three years working in a Union Bar, I can tell you exactly where a student's money goes. Stop moaning and pay your way, there are more benefits from going to university than you can ever imagine. So just put yourself in debt and reap the rewards after as I and many others have done.
Jim, England

What everyone has failed to point out here, is that if a Doctor/Lawyer/teacher wanted to be a dustman then they could be the very next day, at no cost to anyone (other than we would loose a professional). However, if the Dustman wants to be any one of the above, he/she couldn't be. We need to help people who are clever enough to go to university, not make people go who are not capable.
Sarah, Bristol

I never went to Uni and started work at 16. I'm now doing an OU course. I have a family to support and have to pay for my OU course myself with no help or support from anyone. It really annoys me to see people wining on about the injustice of it all. If you don't like it then don't go to Uni and start work. It's a tough life out there, so start getting used to it.
Nigel, Gloucester

Let's see some MPs back paying their £3k. Seriously this is a disgrace to higher education and will force poorer students to avoid university and all the courses will be filled with rich and foreign students.
Matt Ruggles, Kingston Upon Thames

The proposed tuition fees are a graduate tax, its just one that you pay for a limited amount of time rather than your whole working life. Labour hasn't broken its manifesto pledge to introduce top-up fees: it has proposed changing the current system, up-front fees, to an easier (?) scheme, payable after graduation; the cost has been changed to provide better support for students with poorer back grounds, not to top-up the existing fees.
Ian, March, UK

It's a sad week for higher education. Granted not all degrees at all universities will stand you in good stead for life but then shouldn't the government look at cutting those degrees/universities and their farcical "targets". I was lucky and privileged enough to get a place at Oxford University. Under this new bill I wouldn't even have bothered.
Chris, Oxford, UK

I am pleased with the outcome - this bill will help raise some well needed money for universities. To all those people who say raise the money through taxes - Would you like to pay more taxes? - NO you would not. As it is the government will raise 75% of the money for universities through taxes, so you cant have it both ways - do not complain about both high taxes and top-up fees!

These new top up fees will suit perfectly places like Cambridge University where it is likely that most of their students will be able to pay their £3,000 a year but what about universities that mostly recruit students from low income background and mature students who won't be able to pay their fees. Yet again the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.
Cat, Cambridge UK

My son and daughter have recently graduated at high cost to them and to me. Under the proposed system they would not be able to afford a university education. This is an assault on the middle class.
James Scott, Bath, Somerset

What ever happened to politicians representing the people?
Rebecca Davill, Cheltenham, UK

My university does not allow students to work in term time so we can concentrate on our studies
I'm not making any comment on top-up fees because the disgust I feel for all the rebel MPs who abandoned their principles when the pressure was put on them is indescribable. Merely to say in response to correspondents suggesting students should work as undergrads - if I could - I would. My university does not allow students to work in term time so we can concentrate on our studies and not come out with a Mickey-mouse qualification.

What's so sad about this vote is that it wasn't even about top-up fees in the end. It came down to whether these people wanted to see Tony Blair still in power the next morning. Something which Blair should think about really...
Josephine Paget, Colwyn Bay, North Wales

Mr Blair seems to forget that as students are of voting age, we have the power to keep him in government or remove him from government. I wouldn't dream of voting for a party which has nothing to offer me and my future but debt.
Anna, Sheffield, UK

Tony Blair says that old age pensioners and people on low income should not be burdened with paying for education through income tax as it is now. If this is his argument for his new policy, then i assume that these poor people will now enjoy a cut in taxes? Will they heck!
Iain, Hants

The government is kidding itself if it thinks that 50% of people are intelligent enough to benefit from university education. The country is being drained of essential skills such as carpenters and plumbers while our young people go off to university to do fashionable but useless subjects such as media studies. Many of these drop out or fail. Universities should be free for the intelligent few who are able to use their degrees to benefit society - doctors, nurses, engineers etc, provided they graduate.
Mary Childs, Guildford, UK

What effect will top-up fees have on the housing market? Graduates leaving university will be too burdened with loan repayments on small salaries to even think about taking on a mortgage for at least ten years? By that time they house prices will no-doubt be even higher than they are today.
Jake Bourne, Cardiff, UK

I cannot believe that a party can come into power with a promise not to introduce top up fees during the next parliament and then do exactly that. Now why does Tony Blair think that the country does not trust him?
D, Reading

These days a degree doesn't really stand you out from the crowd of job seekers. Therefore, to have a greater chance of getting a job over other graduates you need better post-graduates qualifications. What does this mean? - even more debt! Well done Mr Blair.
Randall Floyd, London

Universities should teach students about life. Fact of life number 1: NOTHING IS FREE! If YOU want it, YOU PAY FOR IT! Why should I fund your education? You don't pay my bills, and nor would I expect you to.
Roger, Whitwick, England

My experience of students is that the majority want to put off working until they really have to
Gavin, England
What a lot of whinging I read here! I have a degree (Engineering, not a useless one) so I speak with authority on this subject. A degree does not take up all of your time so why not get a job? That way you can put away enough money to cover the cost of your fees so when you're earning and need to pay it back you can pay it out of your savings (or pay it off in one lump sum so you have no debt). My experience of students is that the majority want to put off working until they really have to. I think this is what is behind most of the whinging - the realisation that they will have to work and make a contribution for four years of having fun.
Gavin, England

The natural reaction of a parent is to protect their young. This very basic instinct means most parents will do their absolute best to financially assist their children through University whatever the cost to themselves. To use the argument that young people will only pay the fees back when they start working is neither here nor there. My wife and I, like many other parents will do our utmost to pay off our children's debt when they graduate. The only thing this Bill means to us is that we'll now have to pay off £9000 rather than £3000.
Ken, North Tyneside

Good. Now hopefully students will do the right thing and will work for a couple of years before they go to university in order to raise the cash they need. They'll then be mature enough to select the degree that's good for them and surely the demand for Mickey Mouse degrees will fall. Shame they won't be able to save for a gap year 'travelling' though.
Mary J, London UK

It seems a sad reflection on the way MPs see their role that Labour Ministers were able to convince "rebels" to vote for the bill on the basis that they shouldn't vote against their own party. MPs should recall that they are paid to represent their constituents - they do not paid to vote for something they feel will damage the country because they are told to play like children taking "sides" with their friends.
Steve Wren, Cambridge

The sad fact is people refuse to pay more tax, so this is the only way Universities will get the money they require. Anyway, is it not right that the people who receive the benefits of higher education are the ones to pay for it? I finished University two years ago and had to pay all my fees up front, sorry, my parents had to pay for them up front, they both have low incomes, and really struggled. With this new arrangement the student can pay when they are earning enough to afford to. I can't see the problem?!
Martine, Manchester

Top up fees is the way to privatisation of higher education. Perhaps debt can be considered an investment for the future and will focus choice of studies. What are the alternatives have we got good techno colleges? We need reappraisal of manual work and pay it better perhaps?
F Reddaway, London UK

Perhaps increased fees will help concentrate students' minds on taking courses that are actually of value
David Moran, Nr. Aberdeen, UK
I don't have a problem with the idea of tuition-fees - to me it's a way for a student to invest in their future. Perhaps increased fees will help concentrate students' minds on taking courses that are actually of value in getting them future jobs, rather than some of the strange modern courses that result in a virtually-worthless 'degree'. Maybe more universities could look at offering accelerated two year degrees too: when I did my degree it took three years but could easily have been fitted into two if we'd all worked 9-to-6 instead of having several days when there was only one, one-hour lecture/tutorial!
David Moran, Nr. Aberdeen, UK

I recall Mr Blair saying that students should pay for their university education, and it shouldn't be up to those that don't want to go to university. OK, that's a good socialist attitude! What if I don't want to have children, can I refuse to pay a portion of my tax that is spent on education? I think not.
Graeme, Reading, UK

I speak as the parent of a student who has just left college with £9000 student loan debt and is currently earning about £500/month. What the whole thing is doing is postponing payment for education into the future instead of us keeping up with it now through taxation; this is crazy on top of the postponement for pensions and the collection of VAT on spending today on borrowed money again to be earned/repaid tomorrow.
Chris Morton, Colwall, Herefordshire

The part of this I just don't understand is when parents start complaining about the effect this will have on them. But it shouldn't have any effect on them - their children are over 18, they should be studying by day, working by evening, like I and thousands of other students did. We didn't get handouts from parents, we got £2000 a year to live on, and we managed. It was tough, but we managed. All this stuff about having parents paying for undergraduates is a new thing and it's ridiculous to molly-coddle these young adults.
Jane Gordon, Peppard, UK

Students shouldn't worry about taking on £30k worth of debt because they'll earn more? Since when have teachers and nurses earned huge amounts of money? The government are crying out for people to go into these jobs, the public need people in these jobs - a massive debt is clearly a great incentive. As a student myself I'm more than aware that universities need more funding, but surely there is an alternative. What else (if anything) did the government consider?
Helen, Leek, Staffordshire

Higher education funding is in danger of going into meltdown and no one has come up with anything like a viable alternative policy
Kevin, Portland, UK
I have a simple question: if the Government's plans will (as some claim) be a disaster in terms of student numbers, why are almost all university vice chancellors in favour? The answer seems to me to be clear: higher education funding is in danger of going into meltdown and no one has come up with anything like a viable alternative policy. I remember the introduction of student loans and dire warnings that this would lead to a reduction in the number of students. The result has actually been the complete opposite.
Kevin, Portland, UK

I agree with the top up fees based on my experience. I went to university in the US and paid for it myself. It cost close to $60,000. In some ways paying for my education was better than the education itself. It taught me how to be responsible with money, budget time, manage priorities, and it taught me the value of finding and keeping a good job. Most importantly it taught me to be a better student and demand more from my instructors I was spending my money. Finally, this was my choice so of course I should pay.
Tom, New York, NY

Seven years of teaching and I'm still paying off student loans, currently £117 a month; a very noticeable amount going out each month. How are the next generations of professionals going to cope with the debts they're going to build up?
Anon, Dorset, UK

I'm sick of the whinging coming from other students. I earn well over three thousand pounds a year in a part time job while at university. Try not spending every night in the student union bar.
Richard Davis, London

I know first hand, as an honours graduate, how desperately our nation's universities need the money that fees will generate. However, I am a graduate who has seen her fellow students struggle to balance their studies with a job to support themselves. Some of us are yet to reach the level of earnings where we are even eligible to start repayments. It just seems that the money in this country is going the wrong places. Professional footballers, actors etc are getting paid ridiculous amounts to entertain a population that has a struggling NHS and education system. I'm being idealistic, but I keep thinking about all those millions that could go to public spending if something could be done about it....
Nicky, UK

So we can file the Labour manifesto under Fiction in the local libraries then?
Phill C, Sheffield, UK

The Higher Education Bill is a tragedy for Britain
Alison Dalwood, UK
The Top-up fees plan is the first step to privatising university education. As a university lecturer I am only too well aware of the funding shortage but taxation is the fairest way of funding education. The value of an educated society goes beyond the immediate participants - educators and students. The Higher Education Bill is a tragedy for Britain.
Alison Dalwood, Chipping Norton, UK

Shame on them!
May this loose them their seat at the next election.
G. Pietrangelo, Poole, Dorset

What were they thinking, instead of people paying higher money to educate themselves they'll just not bother.
Amanda, N. Ireland

Perhaps the reason the Government needed to introduce such high amounts of fees was because they squandered £2 billion on a certain Dome rather than on universities and education.
Kevin Lin, Northwich, Cheshire

I just hope this becomes Blair's poll tax
Chris, Inkpen, UK
This is a disaster for democracy, for higher education, for society and the economy. I just hope this becomes Blair's poll tax.
Chris, Inkpen, UK

A real cynic would say that Blair and his cohorts want top-up fees so they can spend far less on Universities but still take the credit when student numbers go up. Very much a case of having one's cake and eating it and very New 'Labour'.
Alexander Hay, United Kingdom

I suppose that the only way the government will understand what a mistake they have made with this Bill will be in a few years time when all the graduates are living on the streets because they are so in debt they cannot afford houses and cars.
Jacqui Denson, Aberystwyth, Wales

How did we manage to fund University costs for people like Mr Blair and many others who never had to pay a penny?
What has gone wrong since then?
Shame on Scottish MP's for voting on an issue that does not affect them, they should have abstained, especially as the vote would have been lost without them. I suspect it will create bigger problems later on but what seems highly likely is that free education for many will no longer exist.
Michael, Beaconsfield , UK

On the surface this looks like a victory for democracy but in reality is isn't. I think its a shame that the vote was won by rebels changing their minds and voting to save Tony Blair and the Labour Party rather than voting on the issue. This just goes to prove that the Labour Party, even at the back bench level, thinks Tony Blair is more important that the future of our children's' education
David Howe, Chelmsford UK

I am a teacher and mother of two children in Higher Education. The new fees would definitely have put off my children from going to University. It is already a great struggle for them to even keep their heads above water financially. Many jobs gained after the degree will mean that students remain in debt for a very long time. I feel it will have big effect on the numbers attending university in the future.
Lesley Smith, Plymouth UK

Non-professional subjects should not be paid for by public funds
Sally Skinner, Nottingham
I did a masters degree in fine art. I paid for it through a bank loan. Making repayments was a pain, but I chose to do a course which, lets face it, didn't really contribute to society. That was my choice, and I firmly believe that non-professional subjects should not be paid for by public funds. However yesterdays result concerns me, because I think there are professional degrees like medicine that should be government-financed. They should not be paid for by the student who, on graduating, will provide a valuable public service. I'm sure there will be several school leavers with bags of academic ability who will be deterred from these professions for financial reasons, which is worrying.
Sally Skinner, Nottingham, UK

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Government's aim to get 50% of all young people to go to university? With this vote, they've ensured that virtually no-one will be able to go due to the prospect of a £30,000 debt when they graduate. Contrary to some of the other comments made, most students (certainly most students I know) do not spend all their money on socialising, drinking, cigarettes or Burger King meals; most of it goes on books, rent and bills. Even so-called "cheap, fresh food" is too expensive. Couple those costs with these new fees and it's enough to put anyone off attending university. The worst part is that even if students manage to get Firsts, there's no guarantee they'll get a high-paying job that will enable them to clear their debts. This ridiculous policy should never have been introduced and I hope that students will use their vote in the next election to kick Labour out of power.
Shelley, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland

What Blair needs to realise, and what was demonstrated in last night's vote, is that narrow and inflexible solutions to complicated problems will not do him any favours. Instead of gathering together a few select gurus to come up with a radical reform, he needs to look to address the various issues that affect university funding, and the various possibilities that exist to solve some of the problems. He cannot expect his party to fall in behind him when he has given them no input and no choice in this particular bill.

Perhaps employers should re-evaluate if they need graduates?
Carol, England
My husband and I were both the first members of our family to attend university. However with the fees being introduced we are questioning if we should encourage our children to attend. Whilst graduates can get better paid jobs, many are paid the same or slightly more than non-graduates who have worked for 3 years more as they did not attend university. Perhaps employers should re-evaluate if they need graduates?
Carol, England

Not only has New Labour broken a manifesto promise, they allowed no decent debate about the possible alternatives, strong armed their MPs and had to enlist the help of Scottish MPs to get it through. If I wasn't already convinced of the utter moral bankruptcy of New Labour, I am now.
Katherine, London, UK

I honestly don't know the right answer but saddling students with heavy debt when even the average person cannot afford a flat/house anymore seems ludicrous. This vote shows Labour in its true colours and if the war with Iraq wasn't enough to tell you what they are like the way this issue and vote have been dealt with have ensured that Labour will not be in power after the next General Election.
Claire Herbert, London

I think the bill should also be back dated so that anyone who has a degree and earning more than £20k should contribute to it. Let's start with the Labour MPs and their families.
Ernest, London

The people in the middle will be by far the worst hit.
Mark, London, UK
The fees are ultimately unfair. The students from poor homes will get quite a good deal and the fees won't trouble rich students whose parents are used to paying much more to send their sons or daughters to private schools, so the people in the middle will be by far the worst hit. How is this a fair system? I think a 'graduate tax' like the Scottish model for every student would have been a much better idea.
Mark, London, UK

If you put tuition fees, should you not put up the age requirement for students entering higher education. 18 is very young to be making decision which will ultimately put them in debt for 10 years. A more mature outlook might make them assess whether its worth it or not and give them time to save money.
Yuet Mai Wan, Nottingham

Top-up fees are only going to make debt worse for students, as if it wasn't bad enough already. The government's plans cater for the very rich and poor, but what about the majority of students? A lot of us are going to come out with huge debts around our necks, and what happens when we want our first house? We won't be able to afford a mortgage, because the government isn't willing to find other ways of paying HE fees. Labour said in their manifesto that these fees would not be introduced; how can the UK have faith in a government who says one thing and does another? If things carry on like this for much longer, I don't see how we can call the UK a democratic country.
Hannah, Grantham, England

The arguments that have been used are flawed.
Those who benefit from it should pay
a) they do with higher taxes
b) why should one person who benefits have no debt whilst another has high debt - fair and just? - please explain how.
Andrew Holmes, Bracknell, England

I believe that a lot of talented people will simply not go to University because of the astronomical amount they are expected to pay
Melanie LeDieu, Essex, UK
I could barely afford to get through University before this bill was passed. I believe that a lot of talented people will simply not go to University because of the astronomical amount they are expected to pay. We already ask students to exist on the poverty line - we ask them to pay fees of £3,000 and offer them loans of this amount. So who will pay for simple basics such as food and accommodation? I had thought that one of Labours values was to provide education for all. How sad that they are now denying this to the majority of the population.
Melanie LeDieu, Essex, UK

I feel betrayed by the labour party. As I can no longer trust them to keep their election promises I can no longer vote for them.
Steve, London, UK

Isn't it about time this government started looking after people who want an education and work for a living. They seem quite willing to fund those who decide to live life on benefits. Why work at all when you can get everything for free from the state?
Sian, Cardiff

In my view New Labour is trying desperately to bring back the Victorian era with people having to pay for medical care, higher education and the working class being paid a dismal low wage that no way reflects the high cost of living. New Labour is more right-wing than Conservatives and lately we're now seeing it's members quit one after another that this party has lost it's ideals since Tony Blair has taken office.
Stephen Lynn, Kilmacolm, Scotland

What I don't understand is that the poorest students already don't have to pay fees. Under the new scheme they won't have to either. It seems therefore that this scheme is designed only to target those people with more money. Is it really right that we should generate a society where people are punished for being successful? It seems to me that these people are already forced to pay through higher tax levels, and top up fees constitute another 'stealth tax'. Where does it all end?
James, London, UK

Will all those MPs who vote for the Bill and who received a free tertiary education now volunteer to pay back the money they were given by the taxpayer? It would certainly set a good example to the students they now expect to pay their way.
Adrian Lithgow, East Grinstead, UK

Everyone who helped the bill scrape through should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves
Jo Salmon, Cardiff
I don't know who to be more furious with - the government for proposing the Bill, the loyalists for supporting it, or the turncoat rebels for switching sides at the last minute. How can that narrow majority be a clear mandate to continue with such ill-thought out plans that will exacerbate existing inequalities in the higher education system? Everyone who helped the bill scrape through should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
Jo Salmon, Cardiff

It is a common misconception that everyone who graduates from university will go on to earn huge sums of money. This quite simply is not the case. Due to the increase in students attending university, there are so many graduates chasing jobs that high earnings are not guaranteed. To get a head start in employment it is almost necessary to complete a Masters degree. This too, however, has become common practice. The country will end up with very poorly paid graduates with masses of debt. Not a great advert for Britain is it? Ask yourself where the future doctors, scientists etc are going to come from when no-one can afford to learn the skills necessary.
Brian, Poole, UK

My parents can just afford to pay my tuition fees for me as it is! My sister who is four years younger than me won't be able to go now and if she does she's going to have a larger debt than I am. It's not fair for the people who have to work to get somewhere in the World! Now Blair's taking it away from us!
Rachael, Berks, UK

They way I see it is that no one is holding a gun to their heads forcing them to go to uni. They CHOOSE to go, and therefore they should pay. If I (at an age slightly older than they average student) chose to do an open university course I would have to pay to do it so why shouldn't everyone else?
Adam, Oxford

Oh this moaning is pathetic. I'm £40k in debt after doing an MBA. So what? I chose to go to college, I'm in control of my life, I'll pay it back, I have a sense of self-responsibility, it was an investment, I'll do it. It's not comfortable having this hanging over my head, but so what, life's not always comfortable! These undergraduates need to unwrap themselves from their cotton wool wrappings and realise that £3k debt is nothing!
Fiona W., Warwick, UK

I find it amazing and worrying that Scottish MPs were permitted to vote on an issue that had no effect on Scotland. English MPs don't vote on a Scottish only issue. Strange the win has been only possible with their votes.
M Hutton, Watford, England

Scotland should not have taken part in voting since it does not affect them at all
Amanda, Sunderland
It is such a big disappointment and disgrace to know that the top-up fees has risen. Who can stop the government now to increase it more in the future? For all we know is when my next generation of children decide to go to university it could cost them £6,000. If they could raise top-up fees, why not increase grants to make it fair? Also, Scotland should not have taken part in voting since it does not affect them at all. If Scotland had not have voted, Tony Blair would have had a huge chance of loosing.
Amanda, Sunderland

When I graduate and get a job with a big fat wage I will pay a fortune in tax. The government gets more than enough tax to fund higher education but squanders it on rubbish. There is no need for tuition fees what so ever. I've done the maths, trust me.
J Good, UK

I was a mature student and I seem to remember doing reasonably well. Firstly, I didn't smoke £1500 a year. Secondly, I'm not a binge drinker and lastly, I don't live out of Burger King but shop around for fresh, cheap food. How are these huge debts being calculated? Sam Hinton
Sam Hinton, Cardiff

This issue has had massive media coverage, virtually all contributions from students and 'rebel' MPs have been ill-informed. The truth is this is an excellent policy. Variable fees will not make any difference to student debt - this is actually driven by living expenses and not fees. And don't believe for one minute the institutions will all put fees up to £3,000 - they might want to but they will price themselves out of the market if they don't have the quality of course to back it up. Many courses will actually fall in price and I would not be surprised to see some institutions in high-cost-of-living areas actually set fees at zero and raise income in other ways. All in all a great, if misunderstood, set of policies that this government should be proud of.
Steve, Edinburgh

Alas now we will see the same waste of young people's potential as they see on the continent
Maria, UK
Having worked in education in Spain and France where students pay fees, I can say that it doesn't work. Poorer students are deterred from studying as the burden of debts is too much for them. Students from families of average wealth spend up to 10 years completing what should be a four year degree as they have to work and study at the same time. Neither group ends up achieving their full potential. Up until now the UK system has allowed people who have the brain to study to this level regardless of their monetary background. Alas now we will see the same waste of young people's potential as they see on the continent.
Maria, UK

This whole issue has been a shambles from start to finish. What annoys me the most, apart from the bully boy tactics, are the MP's who abstained. Every election we lambaste those who don't use there vote. Yet here we have well paid MP's who only have to put pen to paper setting a wonderful example to us all. If they don't have the nerve to vote one way or the other get out of the job
S.Joss, Aberdeen

I am disgusted with the 70 odd "rebels" who backed down at the last minute. They are a disgrace to their constituents. Various comments have been made about how top up fees is the "only" way to fund an increase in HE funding. Not true. There were 40 different solutions put forward - how come we've not heard about those? If Tony Blair really wants an inclusive, socially just society, based on opportunity for all, then the only fair way to increase income tax. Another way of course is to close tax loopholes that already allow top earners to pay little or no income tax, and costs the rest of us billions of pounds a year. Imagine what we could do to public services with that amount.
Dave Procter, Leeds, England

Its is a tragedy that the government wasn't defeated over this issue, we are now one step closer to the American system where only the wealthy go to the best Universities. The financial burden of educating the country should be shoulder by the nation rather than the individuals and their families for it is the nation that benefits on aggregate. The Government should have put a penny on income tax and stuck by their manifesto promises!
Richard Hadley, London

I am very glad that the vote went the way it did. I whole-heartedly support top-up fees. I find it incredible that people wouldn't think twice about getting into debt for an expensive car, shoes, DVD player etc. but when it comes to something as important as their education that will affect the rest of their lives, they have a problem handing over money. Don't forget the money graduates will have to pay back has minimal interest and will amount to a very small amount every month, unlike a car loan repayment.
Steve, Coventry, England

I know of students who got Firsts, who are still living on the poverty line two years after graduating. People will still be paying off their own student debts when they are supporting their children through university. The ramifications of this are long term debt that will drag people down all their lives. In the end we all lose out.
Davina Ramshaw, London

Mr Blair wants everyone to have a good education, but only seems to be catering for the extremely rich or the poor
Helen, England
It is funny to see how Mr Blair is planning to help the poorer students when this comes into action. What happens to all the middle-class people who make up the majority of the students? They don't receive any financial help other than the student loan that they will then have to pay back with interest on top. Mr Blair wants everyone to have a good education, but only seems to be catering for the extremely rich or the poor. Maybe he should start to think about everyone in the middle, as they will be the ones most affected by the changes.
Helen, England

I support top-up fees. I do not support a government going against its manifesto, I do not support any MP that votes in accordance with the party line, and I don't support anyone who's clearly out to protect their nice little MP jobs. It's absolutely disgraceful - Labour really is a weak imitation of a government. Pathetic. Get them out.
Nat, Maida Vale, UK

Already my generation faces financial burdens due to the aging population and shuddering pension system. To add an increased student debt at a time when even basic jobs require a degree is to add insult to injury and will potentially cripple the country in years to come.
Jennifer, Cambridge, UK

My main issue is why should the Scottish MPs vote on something that does not affect Scotland, as they look after their own education issues. If they had not been allowed to vote then the Government would have lost the vote.
Karen, Swindon, Wilts

Universities are crumbling.. they need a cash injection and the kids should pay... Has anyone taken a look at the Junior and Comprehensive schools lately.. I'm surprised we're not making the kids pay for them to be fixed too! They can pay it back with the money they would have used on a house they will not be able to afford.
Ray Smith, Colchester

University - a waste of time? We need plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, carpenters etc etc.
Marek Norvid, Newcastle Upon Tyne UK

Every student that i am aware of is opposed to variable tuition fees, and if the government is to meet their target of 50% of young people in higher education, how do they expect to get voted in again?! How about we cut out the "Mickey Mouse" subjects like "Beckham Studies" and then funding real courses won't be an issue.
Michael Leese, Stoke-on-Trent, UK

Why do students get so hot under the collar about student loans? A few tens of thousands of pounds of student debt is paltry when compared with the five figure mortgages you guys will need should you ever want to own a house.
Ralph, London

Interesting to hear English voters complaining about Scottish MP's voting on Tuition fees. I don't recall the same furore when English MP's voted on introducing the Poll Tax just for Scotland.
Duncan MacIntyre, Caithness

I look on this as a great victory for Mr Blair. To be able to win something like this with the full force of the Tory press and the entire establishment (made up of protectionist graduates) against you is indeed truly remarkable. Contrary to all the selfish opinion around, Mr Blair has shown himself to be a great leader.
Andrew M, Walsall, UK

Stephen Willett, Northants, UK

Funny, for once I agree with John Prescott. The Labour MPs have almost paved the way for Howard to be the next Prime Minister.

So much for democracy
Colin, London UK
The Labour Party said in its manifesto that they wouldn't do this. The Parliamentary Labour Party has done it. So much for democracy.
Colin, London UK

I was planning to study in London, to receive (high qualified) higher education. I will not receive any funding at all, so it's already hard enough to cover the costs. I don't think Blair is making himself or his universities popular with doing this, and I think it's a sign of increasing distance between the poor and the rich, which is alarming.
Anne Mol, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

I'm relieved that there is to be an increase in tuition fees, despite being a student. I would much rather pay thousands and thousands for something worthwhile than attend free, crumbling universities. Hopefully, many people will be put off from applying to universities, resulting in a much needed fall in student numbers.
Aden Turna, Oxford, UK

If you are a student I would suggest you the following: rent a small apartment preferably run by your university/college, never get a credit card, try to use cash as much as possible. Keep a record of your expenses in your diary and forget not to compare them to your previous months leisurely on a Sunday (while watching the FA cup). Cook your meal instead of expensive canteen and keep your fingers crossed and hope that your girlfriend does not spend it.
Karthik Paithankar, Leipzig, Germany

I'm going to uni in September to do teaching and specialise in a shortage subject. How do they expect to get more students like me to fill the huge gaps in teaching by making us pay thousands of pounds for the privilege?
Caroline Cooke, Croydon, South London

What hollow promises is the government going to make at the next election? It's not so much that they have decided to implement top up fees, but the fact that they said they wouldn't so they could win the general election. Just shows they can't be trusted.
Ken, Liverpool, UK

For the second time in weeks, Tony uses his lobby fodder from up here to impose legislation in England that a clear majority English MPs have voted against. Devolution was supposed to introduce a fair settlement for all people in the UK, not to provide a flawed system to allow Labour to impose unwanted legislation on 90% of the population of the UK. If education and health are "devolved powers" in Scotland, and nothing to do with the UK Parliament, how come they suddenly revert to being "reserved powers" worthy of the attention of the UK Parliament when they affect England? If the flawed devolution settlement is not sorted out quickly, this will bring the Union to its knees.
Mark, Glasgow

Win the vote for top up fees, lose student votes at the next general election.
S, Hampshire

Buckle down get a first and get a fat salary when you get out, otherwise don't go
Simon Tammaru, Poole Dorset
I am glad that Labour won this vote. The wealth this country has is relative to the technology and research that we produce, patent and export. Just look at the US, the microchip has got them minted for many, many years. It is very important that the universities in this country have the funds and facilities to attract the best students. It is ridiculous that every single university student receives £5,500 per year through government funding as it is now.

I decided not to go to university and I don't think it is right that I should have to pay for those who did decide to go. People are whinging asking how they are going to pay back their debt. Here's some advice, buckle down get a first and get a fat salary when you get out, otherwise don't go. Become a plumber of something, there is plenty of money going in that industry and guess what? You can learn as you work, just like the rest of us!
Simon Tammaru, Poole Dorset

Just wondering how soon we can find out which way our local MPs voted¿
Alison Wood, Manchester

The vote has been won. That's democracy!
Les Woods, Lincoln/UK

The vote has been won, and students will face more debt in the future. But to be honest, what other options are there? The world would be lovely if all education was free, and we all were able to go to first rate universities, but that's not how it works. If the UK is to be competitive (and if our universities are to retain top academics, the answer MUST be yes) then a way to fund the higher education sector must be found. Students will pay now, but face facts: people with degrees will earn more.
Andrew, London, UK

It just shows that we can no longer trust politicians. Whether or not tuition fees are necessary or not Labour clearly said they would not introduce them in their manifesto. Yet another broken promise from a party that is little different from the Tory cronies. Lets hope next election people realise the real third way is the Liberal Democrats.
Toby, Salisbury, UK

I think this policy is appalling
Alice-Lara, Richmond, England
I think this policy is appalling, I will be attending university in 2006 so will be forced to pay these fees. It is a let down for all students and I can only hope that no more ridiculous policies like these are pushed through.
Alice-Lara, Richmond, England

Blair has to GO GO GO! all the MPs had free education when they went to Uni, and now many vote for Fees. Howard for next Prime Minister. He knows what he is talking about.
Ronald Nesan, Slough, England

How are we going to get well educated scientists and doctors when it will take them years to repay their student debts. These poor students will find nearly impossible to live a normal life. They are unlikely to be able to afford a house for many years if ever.
M Bowring, Halesowen West Midlands

I would like to know how many Scottish MPs voted for the bill knowing their own students don't suffer the same tax.
Dominic Wallace, Crawley

The outcome is no surprise. Time and time again MPs fail to represent the views of those who elected them. Say one thing, do another.
Keith Grimsey, Newmarket, Suffolk

On the tuition fees fiasco...60 years ago my dad said 'your working class lad, vote Labour', I'd love to, but can someone show me where the Labour party is please? I can only see something that purports to be Labour, titles itself Labour, but its only policy is any cost. Well done Blair and cronies, we will look forward to the next election though God knows who we'll vote for, but it'll definitely not be 'Labour'.
Tony M, Wirral

I am a student and I shall never ever vote for Labour while they are pushing through policies like this.
Oliver Brooks, Bexley, England

When people leave university, no matter how they've qualified, surely they'll be getting married and buying their first home. Maybe the debt should be put off until either they achieve those two or at least until they are earning about £25,000 pounds?
David Neild, Longsight, Manchester

Students will spend their working lives paying off their student debts. This is a bitterly disappointing day for the young people of Britain.
Marjorie, London, England

Labour has now shown it cannot be trusted to keep its manifesto promises. Who can now vote for Labour thinking it intends to keep to its published word? Labour is now as corrupt as the Tories were in the latter stages of their last spell in government. No wonder there is voter apathy in the UK.
Helen s, Norfolk, UK

This, coupled with the supposed plans to lower entrance grades, makes the whole university system a joke
Lucy, West Sussex, UK
My parent's taxes already go to paying everyone else's tuition fees whilst they have to pay the full amount for my own, and they're hardly rolling in it. Now it's going to hit twice as hard when my sister goes to university, and this, coupled with the supposed plans to lower entrance grades, makes the whole university system a joke.
Lucy, West Sussex, UK

If my taxes pay for the cost of education throughout the United Kingdom does that mean that I am funding university education in Scotland to a greater extent than pro-rata those students attending an English university.
Stuart, Chester UK

Shame on the Labour MPs who followed Nick Brown's cowardice and crossed to vote with the government. They have betrayed students. Shame also on the Scottish MPs who voted as well. The bill does not affect them, so they shouldn't have voted.
Jordan Dias, Edinburgh, UK

Well, that's it! We now know that the whole parliamentary Labour party can be bought and sold. Luckily, I can think of a few better things to do with my own vote. I just need to find a politician standing in my constituency that has a few principles left....
Paul P, Berks

Variable fees are a death knell for Higher Education in the country. After has repeatedly Labour abandoned its manifesto pledges I will now be using my vote tactically to remove them at the next election, instead of voting for them.
S Flower, Bristol, UK

Makes you wonder what was said to the members in the 'back office'.
Nick, UK

Raising tuition fees is the least bad of the three choices
Hugh Payne, York, England
Education costs money. That's life. The alternatives to raising tuition fees are raising taxes and decreasing the number of university places. I think that most people will agree with me when I say that raising tuition fees is the least bad of the three choices.
Hugh Payne, York, England

This would open the flood gates. I live in America and most parents are lucky if they only have to pay $30k (£18k) a year for tuition. The debt is horrendous and unless we want to see a dumbing down of the population because people cannot afford to attend college, then we need to do something.
Julie, Huntsville, Al, USA

What a surprise labour MP's have demonstrated their cowardice again. They have betrayed Labour, but especially the people. No wonder so many people are disenchanted with British politics.
Thomas Doyle, Manchester, England

It's a shame that more Labour MPs didn't stand up for their convictions, instead of being bribed & browbeaten by the Government whips, this is a sad day for democracy, when they are afraid of inflicting a defeat on the Gov't just before the reading of the Hutton report, it makes you wonder what's in Hutton?
James Hemmings, Doncaster, England


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