Tories name top-up troops

November 28, 2003

A new shadow education team will be leading Conservative opposition to top-up fees.

The team, which was appointed under Tim Yeo, shadow health and education secretary late last week, includes Tom Collins, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, and Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell.

As shadow education secretary, Mr Collins has responsibility for Conservative policies on university tuition fees along with the reform of 14-to-19 education, and exam and curriculum issues. Mr Grayling is the new shadow higher and further education minister. He also has responsibility for the Food Standards Agency, obesity and eating disorders, and complementary medicine.

In an interview with The THES , Mr Grayling said the Conservatives would form an "unholy alliance" with Liberal Democrat and rebel Labour MPs to oppose the introduction of variable fees.

He said: "Tuition fees and top-up fees are being introduced as a stealth tax and they are being used to raise money. What happened when tuition fees were first introduced was the money was taken by the Treasury, and I am pretty sure that top-up fees will go the same way.

"Tuition fees are a significant deterrent to students from poor backgrounds, but there is also a significant problem for those people who are graduates and go into more vocational graduate roles, such as teachers, technicians who work in the National Health Service and people who work in research labs. They are not well-paid but will end up paying their debts over a long time."

Mr Grayling is a former BBC journalist. He read history at the University of Cambridge and was previously shadow health spokesman under Iain Duncan Smith's leadership.

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