The Liberal Democrats this week set out their general election stall with a renewed pledge to abolish undergraduate tuition fees.
The anti-fees policy was reaffirmed as a manifesto priority in an alternative Queen's Speech published by the party before the actual speech on Wednesday. It includes a "bill" calling for abolition of tuition fees in the UK.
It also calls for greater transparency in funding announcements to end confusion, evident in past higher education announcements, over cumulative accounting and private and public sources of investment.
A separate document published today by the Liberal Democrats' higher education policy review group warns that only increased public funding can stop a slide towards top-up fees at universities struggling to meet Bett recommendations on pay while maintaining standards.
According to the group, a penny on income tax, raising an estimated £2.9 billion in 2001-02, would fund the estimated extra £96 million needed next year to implement the recommendations on pay, gender equality and other staffing issues made by Bett.
Group chairman Evan Harris, the party's spokesman for higher education, science and women, said: "The threat of top-up fees from cash-starved universities is real. (But) blaming universities for suggesting top-up fees is like hanging a starving man for shop-lifting."
- Universities and colleges will have to ensure they make practical and policy adjustments to allow students with disabilities full access to education, under a new bill on special education needs and disability announced in the Queen's Speech.