Jonathan Reynolds MP

Representing the communities of Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley, Longdendale, and Dukinfield
labour and coop candidate jonathan reynolds

MP: Tuition Fees Could Make Universities Elitist

STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds believes the government's decision to allow universities to charge up to £9000 a year in tuition fees will make higher education increasingly elitist.

In recent years staff from organisations such as Aim Higher and teachers have worked hard to encourage students from Greater Manchester to consider applying for University.

But now Mr Reynolds fears that the government's decision to allow universities to TRIPLE the amount they charge could mean access to university education is determined by ability to pay, rather than academic ability.

As a result of the changes, estimates suggest that students - who also have to pay for their living costs - could graduate from a three-year course with debts in excess of £40,000.

And it's the prospect of such a high level of debt that he believes could be a deterrent for a generation of students.

Mr Reynolds - who is still paying back his own student loan - voted against the plans to increase tuition fees in the House of Commons last week.

He said: "I am part of the generation of students for whom the decision to apply for a place at University is already a judgement between potential value and actual cost.

"When I studied at Manchester 10 years ago the maximum cost of tuition was £1000-a-year, which was daunting enough a debt for a teenager to take on. "But fees of £9000 will put an incredible burden on young people. 

"For me, Manchester University unlocked a wealth of opportunities, which would not otherwise have been open to me. And I often speak to young people in my constituency about the value of Higher Education.

"I want to be able to encourage any of these students who are academically able to seize the opportunities offered by Higher Education.

"But, I know from personal experience that it can be a difficult decision, when you have to balance the potential value of a university education against the actual cost.

"The knock on effects of the decision taken by young people will reach far beyond their graduation - impacting on the mortgages they can afford and the pensions they can save for.

"Access to University education should be determined by academic ability - and not ability to pay.

"This is not just because it is the right thing to do, but it is best for our economy. After all it is only by recruiting the most able students to our universities that we will have the talented graduates who are best able to drive our economy forward.

"This increase in tuition fees could deter a generation of young people from applying to university.

"This is not in the best interests of the young people in my constituency. It is not in the best interests of the country either."

Mr Reynolds voted against the proposals, but they were passed with a majority of just 21 votes, after a number of Lib Dem MPs voted with the coalition rather than sticking to the pledge they had made in the run-up to the General Election to abolish fees.

Published December 14, 2010


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