“The brightest and the best must have access to higher education irrespective of family income,” says Cable. “Our student and university finance reforms are fairer than the present system and affordable for the nation. No student will be asked to pay upfront costs, there will be more financial support for poorer students, and those who go on to earn the highest incomes will make the largest contributions after they have graduated.”
The business secretary says the government will provide the up-front finance for anyone eligible who secures a place at university. “We are also proposing a generous HE student support package to help all full-time students with living costs,” he adds. “The poorest students will be able to get more non-repayable grants than under the current system and most full-time students should have no less overall support for living costs that they do now.”
According to Cable, “around a quarter of graduates” will contribute less than they do now and “around half” will have some of the balance written off. Those who choose modestly paid or unpaid work – which may include time spent bringing up a family – will not be asked to make a contribution.
While a small group of Liberal Democrat backbenchers are trying to postpone Thursday’s vote on university tuition fees, as the party struggles to find consensus on the divisive issue, there’s no doubt that Cable will be voting in favour of the legislation.
What do you think? Will universities be able to continue to supply the skilled graduates the economy needs now that students face annual tuition fee costs of up to £9,000? Add your comments below.
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