How to further a fair fees future 1

December 5, 2003

The Queen's speech mentions the abolition of up-front tuition fees only "for all full-time students", but what about part-timers (Leader, THES , November 28)? The fees these students are charged are unregulated and vary between institutions.

Although some employers are generous in meeting the fees of their workforce who study, other students use savings or disposable income.

Few have the access to financial support available to full-timers. Many part-timers are mature students whose circumstances and aspirations were such that they never considered moving straight to university from school.

It would be doubly unfair if legislation were to be weighted even more towards the needs of school-leavers, making it harder for mature students to realise their potential, especially if they fall outside the government's priority group of under-30s.

If lifelong learning is anything more than rhetoric, it can only be hoped that MPs and peers of all parties will be receptive to measures that not only protect but also promote arrangements tomeet the needs of part-time students.

Alastair Thomson
Policy and development officer
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education

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