Johnson fails to rule out rises in fees or loan repayments

Minister avoids direct answers to Labour questions

June 30, 2015

Jo Johnson, the universities and science minister, has declined to rule out a rise in tuition fees or changes to student loan repayment terms.

Mr Johnson was speaking as ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills took questions in the House of Commons today.

Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow minister for universities, science and skills, asked Mr Johnson: “Will tuition fees go up in this Parliament? A simple yes or no will do.”

Mr Johnson replied: “We are, of course, due to the financial situation we inherited, forced to review all BIS spend, as all departments are reviewing their spend.”

He added that the government is “committed to continuing to ensure that we have a stable, sustainable, funding regime for universities and higher education institutions”.

The government would “continue to ensure there is a fair balance of interests representing taxpayers and students alike”, he continued.

Wes Streeting, the recently elected Labour MP for Ilford North and former National Union of Students president, also asked a question of Mr Johnson: “Can the minister at least rule out that there will be no changes either to the tuition fee levels or the terms of repayment for student loans for existing students and graduates? Yes or no.”

Mr Johnson replied that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development had praised England as one of the “only countries in the world to have come up with a sustainable way of funding higher education”.

He added the government would continue to ensure “our higher education system is funded successfully and sustainably over the years ahead”.

Mr Johnson also welcomed Mr Streeting’s election and noted his experience as NUS president, saying it was “extremely valuable to us to have him here”.

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

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