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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March, 2004, 04:57 GMT 05:57 UK
Learning its lesson
The vote on variable fees could be close
The government is today facing another potential backbench revolt over its plans for variable university tuition fees.

The legislation was only carried with a majority of five at its last reading - and rebels have tabled a number of amendments intended to derail it.

Our correspondent Jo Coburn said:

As always, the crucial element that both sides will not back down on is variable fees. The rebels want a fixed single fee system. But they want to keep the re-introduction of grants that was introduced in the bill and leave in place the new regulator, the Office of Fair Access and they also want fees to be paid back after graduation.

"Variability should not be an issue."

The Education Secretary Charles Clarke has warned the whole reform package could be lost if the bill is defeated.

There is a fee cap of 3000 per head per year until 2010. The cap can only be changed following a full vote in the House of Commons. We have also said we have a commitment that the tuition fees issue will be an ongoing duty for the future Education Secretary.

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