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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 20:26 GMT
Oxford union head slams fees vote
The protest at the Examination School, Oxford University
Students at Oxford University held an overnight sit-in protest
The president of the Oxford University Students Union has said the successful tuition fees vote is a "disaster for the future of higher education", after spending the night at a sit-in protest with about 100 other students.

Helena Puig Larrauri, 22, spoke to BBC News Online from Westminster, where she and students from the university had spent the day lobbying MPs.

They had previously spent the night holding a silent sit-in protest at the university's Examination School in Oxford.

Oxford University said decisions on what fees it will charge will not be taken until the "final shape of the legislation is clearer".

This evening's vote is a welcome step... and it will help Oxford to maintain its reputation as one of the country's internationally competitive universities
Sir Colin Lucas, vice-chancellor of Oxford University
The government's plans for the future of higher education in England involve, for full-time undergraduates, variable fees of up to 3,000 a year.

Ms Puig Larrauri said she feared Oxford University would no longer accept students based on their ability but on money.

"The bill is a disaster for the future of higher education in this country," she said.

"It is introducing university education into a market.

"I think that the introduction of variable fees will mean the university will cease to be entirely meritocratic.

"I do not trust that the cap of fees will not be raised.

'Gap in funding growing'

"What is encouraging though is that it only passed by five votes.

"This means a number of MPs felt strongly enough to vote against their own party."

Sir Colin Lucas, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, said the gap between the public funding that universities receive and the true cost of education has been growing for far too long.

He said: "This evening's vote is a welcome step towards bridging that gap and it will help Oxford to maintain its reputation as one of the country's internationally competitive universities.

"However there is still much important work to be done during the further stages of the debate on this bill to ensure that the higher education sector is well-equipped to meet the needs of our students and the country in the years ahead."




SEE ALSO:
Students in fees sit-in protest
26 Jan 04  |  Oxfordshire
Fees protest students lobby MPs
27 Jan 04  |  Oxfordshire


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