Words: Michael Drummond and Sophie Witts
Liberal Demoncrat MP Simon Wright (Norwich South) has been forced to defend recent revelations that he voted against a Labour proposal to lower the tuition fee cap to £6,000.
In a letter addressing representatives of the Union of UEA Students, Wright described how he thought the scheme was not financially viable and did not represent the “fair” system that he and his party had wanted. He added that “the funding proposals behind this policy just didn’t add up” and would cost the government £2bn, money which currently was being used to pay for the education of students as well as outreach, bursaries and access programs.
However, Union Communications Office Matt Myles responded by pointing out that though the system proposed by Labour may not be proven as financially viable, the current tuition fee system had yet to prove its own viability.
Writing on the Union website, Myles added that “There are schools of thought which believe the current system could be even more economically devastating. IFS projects that the government will lose approximately £25bn per year under the current system. If Simon is concerned about £2bn, then he should be ten times more concerned about £25bn.”
Before the last general election Liberal Democrat MPs signed a pledge to fight against a hike in tuition fees, bringing the party a surge in popularity amongst students, with Wright himself later signing a similar pledge.
Secret party documents leaked to The Guardian in 2010 revealed that the party had already made plans to abandon their pledge to abolish tuition fees in the event of a hung parliament.