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Liberal Democrats' latest university funding shift could be fatal for party

11 October 2010 | last updated: 14 March 2019

UCU tonight said if the Liberal Democrats' latest policy shift on university fees led to a rise in the cost of a degree then voters would never trust them again.

In a letter to party members tonight, the business secretary, Vince Cable, said he was opposed to a pure graduate tax. Although the letter does not give any details of either his or the party's possible new favoured policy, it does represent a third different position on student funding in just six months:
 
April Nick Clegg sets out the Liberal Democrats' position, calls £7,000-a-year fees a 'disaster' and says his party are anti-student debt and will scrap fees. Daily Telegraph website
 
May Vince Cable sets out his idea of a graduate tax. BBC website
 
Tonight Vince Cable says he now thinks a graduate tax is a bad idea.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The Liberal Democrats campaigned hard at the election against fees, and Nick Clegg warned that increasing them would be a disaster. They cannot now renege on that promise to voters if they wish to retain any credibility.
 
'Families who aspire for their children to go to university are not interested in the policy twists, u-turns, coalition infighting or whether the latest idea is called a tax, loan or fee. They want to know if the Liberal Democrats are going to acquiesce in increasing the cost of university.  If they do, they will never be trusted again.'

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