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January 6, 2004

No 10 barters with rebels on tuition fees
Downing Street wobbled yesterday over the long-delayed launch of its university tuition fees bill, as rebel Labour MPs prepared a last-ditch attempt to persuade ministers to create a central fund to help low income students and the poorest universities. At a meeting today with higher education minister, Alan Johnson, MPs Peter Bradley and Alan Whitehead will press for a pledge that a promised £3,000 a year of help for the poorest students will be paid upfront as a grant. The 150-plus rebels are potentially split three ways between hardcore opponents of fees (and Mr Blair); those who oppose the variability option to charge up to £3,000 a year; and those who will accept some concessions.
( Guardian, Financial Times )

Blairite think-tank opposes top-up fees plan
The government's hopes of avoiding a Commons defeat over university tuition fees has suffered a setback after the Institute for Public Policy Research, which has close links with Downing Street, yesterday said that ministers should delay controversial plans for variable top-up fees of up to £3,000 a year and opt for a flat-rate system, the compromise favoured by many of the Labour MPs who oppose the scheme.
( Independent )

£15,000 fees fear absurd, says Clarke
Charles Clarke, the education secretary, last night dismissed as absurd the fears of Labour MPs that leading universities would charge tuition fees of up to £15,000 a year. Mr Clarke said the government would impose a £3,000 a year cap on maximum fees. It would provide a safeguard against fees moving beyond the ability of students from all backgrounds to pay.
( Daily Telegraph )

NUS presidents past and present on fees
As the government prepares to publish its top-up fees bill this week, David Aaronovitch (NUS president, 1980-82), meets current incumbent Mandy Telford and finds that, though student battles may be the same, the solutions look rather different.
( Guardian )

The v-c regarded as 'a pain in the neck'
Profile of Malcolm McVicar, vice-chancellor at the University of Central Lancashire and intellectual bruiser of the anti-variable fees campaign.
( Guardian )

Worm gene offers hope of cancer therapy
Scientists from Cancer Research UK have found a gene in the nematode worm that could help develop new treatments for cancer. Forty per cent of the worm's genes are closely related to humans.
( Independent )

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