Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Monday, 1 February 2010

Students threaten MPs over tuition fees

University students
Students are mobilising votes over tuition fees

Students campaigning against an increase in tuition fees are targeting MPs who hold seats in a "hit list" of university cities in England.

The National Union of Students says MPs must support their campaign against higher fees - or lose the student vote.

Among the MPs identified as targets by students are three ministers - John Denham, Ben Bradshaw and Hilary Benn - and the chief whip, Nick Brown.

"Vote for us or pay the price," warns the National Union of Students (NUS).

The NUS is mobilising the student vote for the general election - threatening to vote against candidates who do not support the union's campaign against a possible increase in fees in England.

'Student battlegrounds'

The top 20 "student battlegrounds" identified by the union are Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Reading, Cambridge, London, Southampton, Bristol, Leeds, Oxford, Durham, Exeter, Norwich, Brighton, Lancaster, Nottingham, Plymouth and Lincoln.

The union has also set up a website to co-ordinate its voting campaign.

The union's president, Wes Streeting, says that the student vote can make a "decisive difference" in constituencies with big student populations.

A review of university funding and the level of tuition fees is currently under way, with the prospect that fees could be lifted.

This review will not be completed until after the general election - but students want candidates to commit themselves to opposing an increase in fees.

So far about 200 MPs and candidates from several parties have signed this "pledge" against raising fees.

"Through this campaign we hope to remind students of the power they hold and remind candidates of the danger of not taking our votes seriously. Our message to candidates is simple, vote for us or pay the price," said Mr Streeting.

"Our list of key student seats should make the point particularly clearly. Elections have been won and lost by the votes of students before and it will happen again."

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