Theresa May facing Cabinet split over tuition fees pledge

Posted On: 
18th October 2017

Theresa May is facing a ministerial revolt over her plans to freeze tuition fees, it has been reported.

University students at a graduation ceremony.
PA Images

According to The Times, Education Secretary Justine Greening and higher education minister Jo Johnson were left "furious" after being kept in the dark about the move, which will cost £2 billion.

The Prime Minister used her keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference to say that tuition fees would be kept at their current level of £9,250 a year, rather than increasing them as had been originally planned.

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She also said that the salary threshold at which graduates have to start paying the charges was being increased to £25,000.

It was seen as an attempt to win back younger voters who had been wooed by Labour's pledge to scrap the charges altogether.

But according to an investigation by The Times, Mrs May's decision was made without informing many of her senior colleagues, who were left stunned by the move.

A Whitehall source told the paper: "Justine Greening and Jo Johnson were furious. There are cost implications but that’s not the only problem. The current policy is working and we were actually in quite a good position before all this. The student loans repayment system is progressive and makes a lot of sense. Universities are one of our most successful exports."

A Cabinet minister said: "Party conferences require announcements to be made and sometimes they leave you saddled with policy commitments that are not always entirely thought through."