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Page last updated at 07:44 GMT, Thursday, 22 July 2010 08:44 UK

University tuition fees 'are a poll tax'


On the Today programme last week Business Secretary Vince Cable floated the idea of a graduate tax of some form to replace the current system of fees and loans. Since then, the debate on the proposed tax has increased.

Speaking on today's programme Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale said "you have a situation at the moment where tuition fees are a poll tax, in which graduates who go on to be youth workers pay the same amount as those who become bankers".

The current system, he said, was an unfair fit, adding "tuition fees bear no relation whatsoever to the cost of education... they are a tax".

But Andrew Haldenby, director of the market-orientated think tank Reform, defended the current system of tuition fees and loans which he said allows students more choice, encourages universities to reduce their costs and has increased participation in higher education from students from poorer backgrounds.

"There is already a progressive tax system in this country and people on higher rates of income do pay higher rates of tax," he added.

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