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Michael Gove cools suggestion of tuition fees rethink

John Ashmore

3 min read

The Tories are not considering a rethink of university tuition, Michael Gove has made clear. 

The Environment Secretary clarified his party's position this morning after Cabinet colleague Damian Green said yesterday debt was a "huge issue" and that there should be a "national debate" about student funding.

Labour wooed young voters with a promise to completely scrap tuition fees – a pledge which would cost approximately £11bn to implement.

Mr Green, the First Secretary of State, said ministers needed to show students they were "getting value for money" now that undergraduate fees are up to £9,250 a year.


But Mr Gove clarified this morning that the Conservatives are not minded to reduce fees, because doing so would mean taking more money out of general taxation to pay for higher education.

He argued it was "wrong" for non-graduates to effectively subsidise university education in this way.

"It's important again to look at Damian's remarks and what he actually said," he told the Andrew Marr Show.

"He was pointing out that the current system ensures that higher education is properly funded in a way that it isn't in other countries and also the current system is fair in that those who go on after they leave [interrupted].

"Damian wasn't talking about getting rid of it. what Damian was saying, was, what I believe, is if we have to fund higher education and people who get university degrees go on to earn well, which is good, they should pay something back and that's what the current system does.

"It's wrong if people who don't go to university find they have to pay more in taxation to support those that do. I believe fundamentally that the purpose of government policy is to support everyone equally and if you don't benefit from a university education you shouldn't have to pay additionally to support those who do."


Elsewhere Vince Cable, who was Business Secretary when the coalition government trebled fees, said the Government should put any extra cash into schools, not universities.

The Liberal Democrat MP, who is the only candidate to replace Tim Farron as his party's leader, launched a blistering attack on Labour for their manifesto pledge to scrap fees.

“If we got more money for education – and I’d love to have more public money for education – the real pressure point at the moment is in the schools. The schools are horribly underfunded… that’s where the real priority is at the moment," Sir Vince told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.

“Yes, by all means let’s look at universities, but universities are about the only bit of the publicly financed sector of the economy which are flourishing. For goodness sake, with some cheap populist gesture killing that off would be a very dangerous and stupid thing to do.”

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