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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 11:15 GMT
Assembly gets power over student fees
Demonstrators
Students have demonstrated against top-up fees
The Welsh Assembly Government is to receive the power to scrap university tuition fees.

Senior sources say the assembly will be handed responsibility for student finance in Wales.

At the moment its role is to fund the institutions but not the students.

Peter Hain MP
Mr Hain was involved in the powers transfer

More details of the changes are expected to be outlined on Wednesday.

A senior Assembly source told BBC Wales that officials are "quietly confident" that the powers will come to Wales.

It means students in Wales will not have to pay the top-up fees likely to be introduced at universities in England.

University heads in Wales have said they do not see the need to introduce fees on top of the existing payment of 1,100 a year.

The changes will also allow the assembly to "remit" existing fees, so that they are paid after graduation.

The UK government is following Wales in introducing maintenance grants, and the assembly will be given a share of the extra money to spend as it wishes.

The changes have been brokered by Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, in negotiations with UK Education Secretary Charles Clarke.

The move represents the biggest transfer of powers from Whitehall since devolution.

Jane Davidson AM
Jane Davidson is expected to speak on fees
Westminster plans to introduce legislation to implement the recommendations.

However, universities in England and Wales will not be able to introduce top-up fees before the next general election.

Universities would be allowed to charge fees of up to 3,000 a year.

A statement is expected from the assembly Education Minister Jane Davidson about fees on Wednesday afternoon.

Charles Clarke will also address the House of Commons earlier the same day.

A Department of Education spokesman said: "This is pure speculation".

"The Secretary of State Charles Clarke will be making a statement tomorrow about the future of higher education in England and Wales."


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17 Jan 03 | Education
05 Dec 02 | Politics
19 Nov 02 | Education
04 Nov 02 | Education
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