Fees vote set for 9 December

MPs will vote on whether to lift the tuition fees cap next Thursday, with students and university staff set to protest on the eve of the vote.

December 2, 2010

The National Union of Students and the University and College Union plan to hold demonstrations across the country on 8 December and to lobby MPs at Westminster on the day of the vote.

They aim to put pressure on the Liberal Democrats, who now have less than a week to decide whether to collectively abstain, support or oppose the plans.

John Denham, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said the party would mount an intensive campaign in the run-up to the vote.

Some observers believe that by holding the vote on a Thursday, when many Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland MPs will have left for their constituencies, the government may reduce its chances of a defeat.

Labour was this week thwarted in its bid to force the government to delay a vote until the Commons has considered the full higher education White Paper.

It has accused the coalition government of seeking to rush through the plans before Parliament is given a chance to properly weigh up the implications.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU, said: “If the government thinks it can hurry through these deeply unpopular and fundamentally flawed plans without a fight, it is utterly mistaken. We do not think penalising families by trebling the cost of a degree is fair or progressive. Every MP should think hard about what these proposals will really mean for their constituents. The widespread opposition to the plans has become clear in the past few weeks, and it is rather cowardly of the government to now try to rush the vote through.”

Aaron Porter, president of the NUS, said: “MPs can be left in no doubt as to the widespread public opposition to these plans or of the consequences of steamrolling them through Parliament.”

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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