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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 15:47 GMT
Fees plan targets public schools
Eton pupils, including Prince Harry (centre)
Public school pupils like Prince Harry, centre, 'should pay more'
Pupils from public schools should pay higher university top up fees, a senior government adviser has suggested.

Every year spent in private education should mean an extra 10% on the planned maximum yearly charge of 3,000, Professor Tim Brighouse said.

Pupils who return to the state system at sixth form could get a 15% discount, he added.

Labour MP Jon Owen Jones said the idea could win the top up fees issue for the government, which faces a rebellion.

Individual advantage

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World at One, Professor Brighouse, who is the London schools commissioner, said ministers should examine his proposal.

He said: "Investment in primary and secondary education, indeed in nursery education, benefits absolutely everybody in the state, all of us.

Modestly paid graduates, who may be nurses or teachers, should not be forced to pay extra top-up fees just because their parents were wealthy
David Rendel
Liberal Democrats

"But investment in a degree tips towards giving the individual an advantage."

Mr Owen Jones, MP for Cardiff Central and one of the 160-odd backbenchers against variable top up fees, backed the idea.

He said: "I think that for most of the rebels the sticking point is their belief that variable fees will dissuade poorer students from going to the best institutions.

"If we use the money from the privately educated pupils to fund the bursary system, then the bursary system would gain a lot of credibility."

He said the idea that poorer students could benefit may help the government get its proposals through.

But Liberal Democrat higher education spokesman David Rendel said the scheme would disadvantage former public school pupils who fail to find good work.

He said: "Modestly paid graduates, who may be nurses or teachers, should not be forced to pay extra top-up fees just because their parents were wealthy.

"The right way to pay for higher education is to charge those who become wealthy as a result of their degree."

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