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Saturday, November 1, 1997 Published at 17:53 GMT


Students protest against fees

Students protest in Cambridge

The National Union of Students has mounted a day of protest against government plans to introduce university tuition fees. Demonstrations were held in 14 towns and cities.

The NUS says many people will be deterred from going on to higher education if the charge of £1,000 a year is brought in next year. The union's national secretary, Simon Webber, says the financial burden should be shared.

The Government believes the fee is the best way to raise extra money for higher education. The Education Minister, Baroness Blackstone, has made it clear that the Government will not be backing down on the charges.

[ image: Diane Abbott: supports free education]
Diane Abbott: supports free education
Speakers in favour of retaining free full-time higher education included two backbench Labour MPs, Diane Abbott and Austin Mitchell.

The Liberal Democrats sent an MP to every student rally. The party's higher education spokesman, Phil Willis, says the charge will do nothing to tackle the funding crisis.

The Dearing Report, commissioned by the Government, said fees were the best way to ensure enough money for higher education as more students seek degrees. Student loans will be increased to help cover tuition charges.

However, students, their colleges and their parents have all complained that this is a tax on learning, deterring all but the well-off from making the most of their abilites.

The NUS warned on Friday night that it plans to expose to the voters those MPs who support the fees.

The street protest is the start of what students say will be a "full-blooded" campaign to stop the fees.

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