Letter: Light at end of tunnel?

September 14, 2001

We are heartened to hear reports that the government is considering a rethink on tuition fees ("Call for reform pits students against staff", THES , August 31).

The government's commitment to get half of all young people into higher education within the next ten years will be realised only if there is a change of policy. The current system is a constraint on students - especially those from poorer backgrounds - taking up university places.

Last year, nearly 10,000 university places remained unfilled. Representatives of both students and lecturers are concerned at the human costs associated with upfront tuition fees and student loans.

Students graduate with debts of £12,000 on average, most need to find paid work during term-time.

Scrapping up-front tuition fees and reintroducing some form of maintenance grant is crucial if the government's commitment to opening up higher education as widely as possible is to be realised.

Owain James, National president, NUS
Paul Mackney, Secretary, Natfhe
Natalie Fenton, President, AUT

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