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'More tuition fees for graduates'

Source PA News

Updated on 15 July 2010

Graduates will have to pay more for their university education in the future, Vince Cable has said, under sweeping reforms being considered by the Government.

Higher graduate contributions are the "only possible way forward" to make the higher education system fairer and sustainable for the future, the Business Secretary said.

Mr Cable was setting out a more "progressive" system of funding that includes proposals for a so-called "graduate tax".

And he admitted that as the university sector becomes more competitive, it is inevitable that some institutions will struggle and should be left to fail.

In his first speech on higher education, Mr Cable told a meeting at London South Bank University: "The reality is we are going to have to develop a model in which the balance of funding for higher education in England combines less public support and more private investment from those who benefit most from it." Students "almost certainly will have to pay more", he said.

Tuition fees currently stand at £3,225 per year. Under proposals for a new type of tax, graduates would not take out loans to pay tuition fees, but would pay premiums depending on their earnings once they are working.

Speaking after the speech, Mr Cable acknowledged that some graduates are likely to end up paying more money back than they would do under the current fee rate.

"I don't want to see the quality of universities cut, we don't want to narrow the opportunities for young people to go to university, so therefore the only possible way forward is by having a bigger graduate contribution. The issue then is how you do it fairly."

He added: "It's a logical consequence of what we've said that yes, if there's less Government money, then the private contribution, through the graduate contribution, is going to be bigger obviously."

Mr Cable said he has asked former BP boss Lord Browne, who is leading a review into student funding, to look into proposals for a graduate tax. The review is due to report to Government in the autumn.

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