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Clegg faces the students

Nick Robinson | 17:19 UK time, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

No policy has produced more anger recently than the government's decision to dramatically increase university tuition fees.

Nick Clegg taking questions from students

 

No-one has been the subject of more anger than the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Today the deputy prime minister agreed to come face to face with students who the BBC had chosen and who come from homes around the country. They accused him of breaking his word, of not understanding the fear of debt and of creating an unhealthy market for education.

He revealed his fear that many young people are being put off university by their fear of what they might owe when, in fact, he claims the government's plans would ensure that university is affordable for the poorest.

The confrontation came on the eve of the government publishing proposals for a National Scholarship Programme to subsidise students from the poorest backgrounds attending English universities. It is clear that ministers have all but abandoned their plans to promise two full years free for students on free school meals and chosen instead to allow universities to choose how they spend the money the government has pledged.

You can watch the debate in full on the BBC News Channel at 7.30pm.

PS. Here's what Nick Clegg had to say to the students on the subject of Oxbridge fees.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    It would be incorrect, dramatic and immature to say that tuition fees are Clegg's 'Iraq' as some people have said.

    However it is an issue which has alienated a lot of the Lib Dem base very quickly. In discussions it is a subject which many are not willing to stand up for. When pressed, voting reform comes a close second.

    "No to tuition fees" and rapid "voting reform" were key electoral messages, but they do not make good government policy.

    Neither of the parties seem to have changed pace yet - all people dealing with the policy and legislative angle, both of which I deal with in a professional capacity on a regular basis, know the government is running before it can walk in too many areas. All at the same time.

    Quick fix, poorly consulted upon legislation seems to be the watch-word and the number of Henry VIII clauses flying in each house at the moment highlight this more than anything.

    This is not good for democratic accountability, and Lords on all benches are beginning to take note. Will this real undermining of democratic freedom become a media issue too?

    I hope so.

  • Comment number 2.

    The debt will scare off the poor from applying for university period.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am not one who says no to fees.

    The problem is that Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems signed a pledge and then turned their back on it without properly articulating the reasons or doing the necessary preparatory work.

    To compound that error they have to date totally failed to sell any of the progressive components of the new policy. They seem to blame everyone else for the fact that the public do not understand the Government's policy.

    The failure on fees has badly undermined the LibDems and in particular Nick Clegg. I suspect thee AV referendum will fail - in large part because of the vast political capital expended on the fees u-turn.

    If that is the case Nick Clegg should step down as leader to see if his political career can be rehabilitated.


  • Comment number 4.

    Pre election the lib dems made a deal with students. Your side of the bargain is to vote for us. Our side of the bargain is to oppose tuition fees. The students went out and in large numbers duly voted for the Lib Dems. The moment arrives for Mr Clegg to fulfill his side of the bargain and the deals off. That's a con, and nothing upsets people like being conned and made to look naive. If Mr Clegg, the consumate con artist, expects anything other than the contempt he deserves he's delusional.

  • Comment number 5.

    ...."of not understanding the fear of debt...."

    Presumably none of them will ever take on a mortgage then......

  • Comment number 6.

    This country cannot afford or requires a situation where 50% go to uni
    The money is simply not there.

    What we need is a properly managed education and employement policy that has been lacking for 15 years, rather than targets for targets sake

  • Comment number 7.

    Important issue, this, it really is.

    We have the following double whammy:

    1. Concentration of educational and career opportunities in the hands of a privileged and (mostly) privately-educated minority.

    2. The main route (other than work and inheritance) to wealth accumulation in this country – property ownership – closed off to those without access to family money.

    We’re in danger of becoming a society where equal opportunity and social mobility are platitudes, and this policy (pricing all but the relatively affluent out of our best universities) will not help one iota.

  • Comment number 8.

    Interesting debate. It is to bad the Nick Robinson cannot dissociate himself from his Tory leaning. He was far to supportive of Clegg. Clegg and the Lib Dems lied during the election end of story. How can they be trusted. They are not leading the government.

  • Comment number 9.

    It should be entertaining to see how this Shakespearian 'actor' can orate his way out of the treachery he and his colleagues have committed. A good context for these students is the Merlin project and the impending bonus bonanza for a tiny minority of fortunates in the banks who according to one of their kind do not do anything socially useful.

  • Comment number 10.

    The really sad thing is that the poorest will find this much more affordable. Not only will they not be paying anything up front (as I had to), but neither will part time students (who always used to) and they will be paying back at a lower rate than they would have previously. It is only when you get into the relms of whether they finish paying it off and how much is written off after 30 years that they come off worse and even then only if they end up on a very decent wage (well above the national average).

    Shame this wasn't articulated a lot better, for this I only blame Vince.

  • Comment number 11.

    Too little, too late Clegg.
    You sold the kids a lie to get the votes & your cover was blown for all to see when you sold out to get the little sniff of power that you have.
    The damage is done & they won't forget come the next election - if you ever get there.

    Tell you what,sell them the Scholarship Programme; they have them over here in the US where I chuck my pennies & dimes into the fast food collection boxes to help out with the Taco Bell scheme (they even make them wear the tee-shirts).

    Let's hope the Beeb hasn't been too selective in their choice of students for the programme.

    To bad I'm not back home to see this debate; looks like it will be interesting to say the least - a real doozy as they say here.

  • Comment number 12.

    £20k worth of debt is bad enough with it being increased needlessly to more like £40-50k

  • Comment number 13.

    Clegg simply doesn't get it. He made a promise, he broke that promise and now wont apologise for it. I suggest the NUS field a candidate in the constituency of Sheffield Hallam, which has a very high level of student voters (remember the queues at polling stations!) and perhaps Labour should not stand and allow a straight fight between liar Clegg and his student constituents!

  • Comment number 14.

    philipno10 wrote:
    Pre election the lib dems made a deal with students. Your side of the bargain is to vote for us. Our side of the bargain is to oppose tuition fees. The students went out and in large numbers duly voted for the Lib Dems. The moment arrives for Mr Clegg to fulfill his side of the bargain and the deals off. That's a con, and nothing upsets people like being conned and made to look naive. If Mr Clegg, the consumate con artist, expects anything other than the contempt he deserves he's delusional.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    I would put it even stronger. In my opinion this man who ended up in government did so through deceit.

    I for one do not even recognise this Con Dem government as legitimate due to this simple fact. Far to many lies and broken promises, promises designed to get this shower elected. Surely there must be some sort of legal case that could and should be bought against these political clowns.

  • Comment number 15.

    At the last election, Clegg won a significant number of votes from students having promised "We will scrap unfair university tuition fees so everyone has the chance to get a degree, regardless of their parents’ income." (LibDem Manifesto 2010, page 33)

    Not only has Clegg NOT scrapped tuition fees, the LibDems have supported a policy to increase them to record levels.

    Last year it was revealed that the LibDems actually planned to abandon their own manifesto pledge BEFORE the election.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/12/lib-dems-tuition-fees-clegg

    In other words, this was a deliberate deception to win votes from students.

    LibDems also broke their promise during the last government by abandoning their manifesto pledge on a referendum on the European constitutional treaty.

    LibDems under Clegg cannot be trusted. They have no integrity and no principles.

  • Comment number 16.

    One of Clegg's many problems over this policy is that he doesn't seem to understand who it hurts - and who cares about it. Helping 'the poorest' is largely irrelevant to the masses of middle class families who supported him - it's those people that will suffer as a result of the policy, and not be helped by his safety net.

    He ought to have known this....

  • Comment number 17.

    I am filled with admiration for anyone that can do that, Nick. Not an easy audience was it? When I want to criticise the coalition, I try and remember that word "compromise". Both sides had to give stuff up if subsequent Government was to and now is to work. But after the flak over the matter, there he is. If he thought it was the thing to do, I agree with Nick. Clegg that is. Impressive.
    I just checked which University Mr Clegg went to himself. It should be proud if it allegedly helped build that sort of personal character. Had I been in Mr Clegg's place, I would have sent a subordinate. Really!
    Both Cambridge University and the other one, now what was it called again....are both suggesting the maximum annual fees for attending their courses in future. Hmm
    I plan to go back to my old alma mater. The University of Life. Or send a subordinate! lol

  • Comment number 18.

    No1 - Davine is quite correct about the crazy speed at which half baked axe swinging policies are being implemented. On reflection it seems impossible that a government has got away with what this one has managed to get away with for nine months. However Nick Clegg and the obvious con of the electorate over the tuition fees is attracting a lot more attention.
    This is of no surprise; the Tories have always been very good at getting a stooge to do their dirty work for them and to take the heat off themselves. In the old days of private mines, the rich Tory mine owner would decide only to employ half of his miners and send the rest away hungry. He would then get a working class foreman to decide which ones to lay off, and so this lackey would be left to take the blame and the heat of the anger. Of course the foreman was very much disposable and would be discarded the moment that he had served his purpose.
    Today, nothing has changed and the Lib Dems, and Nick Clegg in particular draws the brunt of voter anger. While he richly deserves contempt for his lying to the electorate, people should look beyond this to the menace that is David Cameron.

  • Comment number 19.

    I listened to these students and to Nick Clegg. I really hope these student fees DO put off students going to University.....

    If that is the only level of intelligence they can muster then this country is better off not paying a penny towards their university education.

    I left School with 6 O'Levels, my dear university applying friends, and I understood every single elment of Nick Cleggs explanation of the system.

    For goodness sake, what IQ do they let student into Universities with these days?!! I reckon I could have a First Class Honours Degree if I was given the chance today. I am saddened that kids today are so ignorant of how things used to be; the days when only a FRACTION of students were intelligent enough to attain a university qualification, and which as a result, this country was able to publically fund 100%.

    If these students we saw today actually engaged their brains, they realise that due to the watering down of the educational system in the intervening decades, it has now become IMPOSSIBLE to fund free university education......and if they want to blame anyone for how things are now, they can blame the Labour Party. I personally stopped votint for the Labour Party in 1983, and will NEVER vote for them again.

  • Comment number 20.

    Sorry, this is the most amount of rubbish I have ever read. Ever. So there are only 2 ways you can do well in the UK today according to sagamix:

    1. Be posh and have your parents pay for a private education then use their contacts to get you a job.

    2. Be posh and get a deposit on a property from your parents.

    No mention there of good old fashioned hard work, then - forget having to work for it because the posh people don't have to so why should anyone else. Well, it's worked ok for me saga, and my wife for that matter, neither of us have had anything handed to us by our parents, no family money to access property, no private educations... just hard work. Give it a try, go on I dare you.

  • Comment number 21.

    Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems do not yet understand that they snatched defeat, serious defeat, from the jaws of victory, long awaited victory. Remember the once in a lifetime position they were in after the election and the goodwill and hopes of so many that they had behind them.
    Their mistake wasn’t that of joining a coalition with the Conservatives but it was in agreeing and voting for policies that were opposite to what they had promised before the election. They had no mandate to vote for those policies. They have shown our democracy to be as corrupt as those we denounce in other countries in the world. I cannot see any Lib Dem without thinking ‘liar’.
    The importance of this assault on our democracy and the size of the Lib Dem defeat has not yet been fully appreciated because the right wing media want the Coalition to survive at the moment and have kept it on the back burner. However, the next election will be different. Then the lies told by the Lib Dems at the last election will be revisited and will become a campaign issue. As the pencil of any voter passes over the Lib Dem box on the voting paper, no matter what that voter thought before that moment, he will then think that he cannot vote Lib Dem because he can never know what they will do if voted in. Even now, many members of the Lib Dem party are wondering what they stand for.

  • Comment number 22.

    Personally, I think all politicians are taking completely the wrong view on universities. We are in a situation where we are trying to get as many people through to universities as possible. Why, though?

    To me, universities are supposed to be about knowledge and research. The meaning of university has changed over the past couple of decades so it is now about employment. People go to university in order to get better work. Isn't that what schools and colleges are supposed to be for, though?

    This country has been on the wrong path for the batter part of half a century, with focus on manufacturing and production of goods lessened and focus on services and banking vastly increased, almost to a point where it is over-saturated.

    Changing the pricing of universities is not the way forward, it's not even a very good sidestep. To reform this system we need to reduce the number of university places available (this is one of the reasons used by politicians to up the price, number of places available v cost of maintaining). We need to recognise that university isn't for everyone as is so often claimed, university should be for the very best and brightest in our country regardless of background and parent income.

    I have no problems with universities offering so-called vocational degrees, like business management and hospitality, but why not get the private sector to fund those areas? After all, they're the ones going to get most benefit out of our universities.

    Gone are the days when people went to university to study ancient history or English as a matter of knowledge and perhaps in order to gain research and professorial employment - nowadays most people don't care what degree they do, it's just about going to university to get a degree...oh, and to live the life of a student as well.

    I think Mr Clegg is a massive fool for allowing these changes to go ahead, especially without putting more emphasis on the private sector to stump up partially for university tuition. Instead, he has reduced the state's responsibility for university and placed a heck of a lot more on the students.

    I hope Mr Clegg will explain to us where the money will come from for the next ten to twenty years as far as student loans goes...of course, the SLC will need to bear the brunt of fee increases until the first trickles of loan repayments come back in. I'm sure he's thought of this too.

  • Comment number 23.

    # 7 saga

    "We’re in danger of becoming a society where equal opportunity and social mobility are platitudes, and this policy (pricing all but the relatively affluent out of our best universities) will not help one iota."

    I think we are already there.

    Savings have to be made somewhere thanks to the appalling state of the economy. But taxing young people before they have earned a penny, effectively discriminating against those from less well-off families is not only immoral, but it does nothing to help the country in the long run.

    Educating our young citizens should be a top priority.

  • Comment number 24.

    I want to know how the government can justify increasing the debts that students accumulate, in order to get a better career and pay it off later on; when in the same breath they damand savage cuts in order to cut the budget deficit now. Surely, in light of higher tuition fee reasoning, it would be more consistent to continue to accumulate debt through spending, knowing that this investment can be used to pay off the debt later on?

  • Comment number 25.

    Clegg deserves all the vilification he gets. The implementation of the Browne report without proper discussion and consultation will potentially be disastrous. Government policy will act as a real financial deterrent to potentially brilliant students who will simply be too cautious to wish to saddle themselves with at least £35-£40 thousand of debt. Because the English, in particular, are distrustful of intellect (only the English are too clever by half, or for their own good), and because British society remains stifled by a rigid class system the rationale of which would stand up to no rigorous scrutiny, there is seldom any proper discussion of education.

    What comprises a traditional university education? Who is best served by it? If the answer to the first question is along the lines of introducing students to intellectually rigorous and challenging questions, encouraging auto-didacticism and habits of critical enquiry; and, to the second, that special needs group, the intellectually-gifted, then we have to question the Blairite policy of massaging unemployment figures by getting 50% of young people into tertiary education. Many of these would be better served by vocational or practical courses, even apprenticeships. People have different aptitudes, and are inter-reliant. The classicist is not superior to the plumber. An argument can be made that they need each other.

    Nobody has addressed the question of what education system might best serve the country and its citizens. Nobody considers the possibility that education might be a public good, and, therefore, as much as other public goods such as policing, be funded from taxpayers' money. One root of the problem is that the wealthy buy themselves out of any public education from primary level, and have no stake in what the rest of the population is offered. Government policies will make things considerably worse and, in certain terms, could be thought unpatriotic.

    Clegg has said one thing and done another. This is common enough with any politician. However, since the Lib-Dems seem content to coexist with a government turning out to be Ultra Thatcherite, and because this is not how they were perceived politically to be, then this craven abandonment of principle can only be censured in the most severe terms.

  • Comment number 26.

    3. Cassandra wrote:

    The failure on fees has badly undermined the LibDems and in particular Nick Clegg. I suspect the AV referendum will fail - in large part because of the vast political capital expended on the fees u-turn.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    It will fail because it isn’t the policy that the LibDems tried to sell us.
    AV isn’t proportional representation – it isn’t even PR Lite; it’s just another LibDem cop out like the Further Education plans.

    I dare say – if it ever comes to a referendum - we will see Cleggy attending another “public” debate to try to convince us that we really should vote for a poor second choice of voting system rather than our tried & proven FPTP.

    Why Is this guy in continued denial; doesn’t he realise the damage that’s been done to the LibDems with regards to the whole Further Education debacle?

    Don’t know about Clegg getting rehabilitation; as far as I can see he’s dead in the political water & resuscitation is futile.

  • Comment number 27.

    I entirely oppose the tuition fee rises, but a lot of people seem to be missing the fact that it's going to affect all students significantly, and if anything the "poorest" will be the best off. As a student with relatively well-off parents I have far less money than most other students I know as I get no grants and the minimum student loan. Most students' finances have little to do with those of their parents and their debts are even less related. No student should graduate at a "disadvantage" and should have just the same opportunities to pay off their debts as any other graduate, unless they intend to live off their parents for the rest of their lives.

  • Comment number 28.

    Nick Clegg when asked if he was hurt by the fury aimed at him over his u-turn on tuition fees said "I have broad shoulders and a thick skin" he should have added and a forked tongue.

  • Comment number 29.

    sevenstargreen wrote

    ..."of not understanding the fear of debt...."

    Presumably none of them will ever take on a mortgage then......

    Likely not - they won't be able to! My daughter & boyfriend are pretty average graduates, one with a 2/1 one with a 1st. Both are now in their early thirties, one on £30,000+ a year, the other training to be a teacher. They still have student debt from 8-10 years ago of c£15000. If they went to Uni now that debt would initially be £54,000. To buy a house in the city they live in they need a 25% deposit of at the very least c£30,000. They pay rent of c£500 month.

    Were they also servicing a joint debt of £54,000 (plus any incurred living expenses, this is just fees) where is the affordability of a mortgage? They cannot afford one now!

    For interest I am looking at going into sheltered accomodation so that I might sell my house and give them a start. Otherwise they buy a house when I or the in laws die.

  • Comment number 30.

    Clegg and the Fib Dems pulled off the biggest voter con in our political history.

    He'll reap what he sewed, beginning this May, it will probably cost him the AV vote as thousands either stay away or vote against change as retribution on Clegg for delivering a Tory government on the backs of student debts.

    Thanks Clegg, I hope you're eying up a safe Tory seat as your 30 pieces of silver.

  • Comment number 31.

    On the basis that Mr Clegg is not stupid, how does he defend his alleged surprise that the likes of Oxford & Cambridge intend to charge £9k tuition fees per year. What did he think he was voting for last year.

    No matter the caveats over increased access for poor students as the justification for higher fees, it was always going to come up against the ingenuity of those more than able to find "imaginative" ways round such inconvenient obstacles.

    This either makes Mr Clegg ingenuous, or duplicitous, if he ever thought £9k would not become the universal level of fees - the choice of simpleton or villain will depend on one's particular political viewpoint.

    Either way, Mr Clegg is the loser - along with this generation of disadvantaged students; however, they don't have the benefit of a private education and inherited wealth to support them when they end up on the dole.

  • Comment number 32.

    Credit to Clegg for facing up to students directly on this. However, this is about the core values of the Lib Dems. They are supposed to be a progressive party of the centre-left. There accession to office makes this description seem to be wildly inaccurate. I like the "shot across the bows" of Cambridge University today but there needs to be concrete evidence that £9000 fees will be the exception and not the norm AND that Oxford and Cambridge will not be the notable exceptions.
    It really is long overdue for the Deputy PM to remember he is a Liberal Democrat.

  • Comment number 33.

    Nick Clegg is a classical example of centre left politics. He is repeating the same line that Gordon Brown and others have before him.

    They are stating that students should be admitted to universities not on the basis of ability but on the basis of the income of their parents and what job their parents have.

    Strangely I thought that was a bad idea

  • Comment number 34.

    One of Clegg's many problems over this policy is that he doesn't seem to understand who it hurts - and who cares about it. Helping 'the poorest' is largely irrelevant to the masses of middle class families who supported him - it's those people that will suffer as a result of the policy, and not be helped by his safety net.

    He ought to have known this....


    -------------------------------

    Wow. Just Wow.

    Your sense of middle class entitlement is simply breath taking.

  • Comment number 35.

    Nick Clegg is right that the poorest will have no problem getting the money to go to university; they get most of it paid for! I am currently in my 2nd year at uni and am from a 'middle class' family. I have never in my life had any help from the government whereas my 'poorer' friends had £30 a week EMA, a £1000 grant to go to uni and an extra £1000 per term to help them pay for it, despite being an adult in their own right like me. When they are out of uni they will be much, much better off than me and will be significantly richer in their lifetime. I do not see how this is wealth redistribution.

  • Comment number 36.

    I don't understand why the LibDems are not defending their volte face much more robustly. Every time they offer excuses and shift around in their seats looking guilty and trying to pretend that they never made any promises it just provides their opponents with more mud to sling.

    If he looked them straight in the eye and said that circumstances have changed, that their best course is quite obviously to take advantage their surprise opportunity for the greater good, what the hell would you do, stop whinging and allow us to apply ourselves to the task because there's no choice, then they'd be a much smaller target.

    It would be nonsense of course, but it would work.

  • Comment number 37.

    All we hear about is protecting people from poor backgrounds. What about those from not-quite-so-poor students? Clegg does not live in the real world, he is an arch-Tory and is extremely bad news for the lib dems, along with Tory apologist Danny Alexander. These delusional liars should not be given any more air time.

  • Comment number 38.

    ummm, so there is or was a plan to provide some allowance for students on free school meals?

    Currently any family earning less than approx £16,500 and claiming Working Tax credit cannot claim free school meals, if they do their claim will be rejected regardless of income. So this will take a huge swathe of eligible students out of any entitlement to the allowance?

  • Comment number 39.

    Nothing Nick Clegg says to these students will be listened to as they do not trust him. University funding and access is a different matter it would be great if everyone who wanted a degree could get one at no cost to them or their parents.However that would not go down well with the hard working majority of us, who would have to pay for it in sky high tax. I am not against paying for my own child in fact I think its my duty . However I object to paying for the kids from families who are not willing to meet their own obligations. My wife and I are not high wage earners but have made savings over a number of years to fund this . so I can not agree with Sagamix @ 7

  • Comment number 40.

    34. RichBerks wrote:
    One of Clegg's many problems over this policy is that he doesn't seem to understand who it hurts - and who cares about it. Helping 'the poorest' is largely irrelevant to the masses of middle class families who supported him - it's those people that will suffer as a result of the policy, and not be helped by his safety net.

    He ought to have known this....
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Wow. Just Wow.
    Your sense of middle class entitlement is simply breath taking.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Don’t let the ConDem’s trick you into fighting amongst yourselves for the last scraps on the table – it’s what they want & it’s working rather well.
    Be assured; all but the wealthiest will be effected by these policies.
    What is the Government definition of “poor” & “middle class” anyway?
    These policies (sic) regarding training & further education will have far reaching implications regarding our ability to supply quality, skilled individuals to our future recovery, & are therefore counterproductive.
    Remember, Clegg, Cameron, Bertie et al have more than enough money to bail their families out whatever the damage done to the rest of us.
    Even the Daily Snail is beginning to describe the divide as being between the ultra rich & everybody else; just look to Egypt to see what happens when the divide gets too big (Mubarak’s 40 to 70 Billion Dollar fortune).

  • Comment number 41.

    Oh dear, things must be getting really bad for Nick Clegg. I'm beginning to get the urge to defend him. Is he a willing scapegoat for the sins of his party? They all agreed to sup with the devil and turned down the option of using a long spoon. They cannot escape the consequences of the pact they freely entered into.

  • Comment number 42.

    " But they SIGNED !; ' Yes but they are old people' But they SIGNED ! 'Well they might not have really known what they were doing' BUT THEY SIGNED !!!'

    Romana Marguez [ Outnumbered BBC ] in response to her father's doubt about her obtaining money from her grandfather's care home.

  • Comment number 43.

    When I went to university approximately 15% of school leavers went on to university, and we had our fees paid with means tested grants. Tony Blair came up with the catchy soundbite that 50% should go. There is no way that the country can afford the same largesse, although I would argue that I have paid for my education many times over with the taxes I have paid since graduating. My eldest son is currently at university, my other two children have elected not to go, but to seek employment or non university training instead.

    Nick Clegg is playing at social engineering. University education must be academically elitist, or this country will fall by the wayside compared to other emerging nations. By insisting that Oxford and Cambridge must adjust their fees according to the social mix of their admissions, he will drive them out of state control into true independence. They will then act as Yale, Harvard, etc., and charge full commercial rates to all students, offering bursaries and scholarships as required to those deemed bright enough to attend but of limited means.

    The irony is that when we had grammer schools, the percentage of state school leavers going to Oxbridge comfortably exceeded that of independent schools. With the comprehensivisation of the state school system, the percentages have reversed. We have gone from a situation where our prime ministers were state educated (Wilson, Heath, Callaghan,Thatcher), to one where they have been privately educated (Blair, Cameron). Quite an achievement for a left wing educational establishment.

  • Comment number 44.

    Richberks (34), I wasn't stating that the middle class SHOULD be entitled, just that they generally EXPECT to be entitled, and Clegg led them to believe that they WERE entitled. The 'should' question is a much bigger one, but not the one that Clegg's being judged on. What surprises me is that he doesn't appear to understand the nature of his (former) supporters.

  • Comment number 45.

    ...oh here we again...

    The well off students have mummy and daddy to fund their higher and further education and daddies Cameron and Clegg will fund the higher and further education of the 'poorest' families...

    .. and yet AGAIN... those of us who are NOT middle class, who just manage to scrape a living and support our families and whose children are not elegible to free school meals (BECAUSE we just manage to get by) have to watch our children start their employment with, quite possibly, a £30,000 debt of tuition fees (this doesn't even begin to take into account accommodation/living costs)...


    Punished yet again for working hard without ANY help... not that I expect it, but it's always the well off and the poorest who seem to get the help....

    With £30k+ debt I can't see my son ever being able to afford a deposit for a mortgage/own a home/pay into a Pension/LIVE!

    Cheesed off.

  • Comment number 46.

    At 7:34pm on 09 Feb 2011, Its_an_Outrage wrote:
    I don't understand why the LibDems are not defending their volte face much more robustly. Every time they offer excuses and shift around in their seats looking guilty and trying to pretend that they never made any promises it just provides their opponents with more mud to sling.

    If he looked them straight in the eye and said that circumstances have changed, that their best course is quite obviously to take advantage their surprise opportunity for the greater good, what the hell would you do, stop whinging and allow us to apply ourselves to the task because there's no choice, then they'd be a much smaller target.

    It would be nonsense of course, but it would work.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Workable nonsense,eh? Could be successful. Definitely better than the unworkable nonsense we're used to getting from the Coalition.

  • Comment number 47.

    "No mention there of good old fashioned hard work, then" - efan @ 20

    No, hang on - you've misread me. I said (7) that the 3 main routes to wealth accumulation in this country are work (i.e. good job), inheritance and property ownership.

    Now anyone can succeed, of course, as an individual - and well done you for doing so - but at the macro level I'm afraid all these 3 routes are increasingly the preserve of a privileged and privately-educated minority. True, sadly, and VERY worrying - we're becoming a society with less and less opportunity and social mobility. Worse in Britain than elsewhere and been getting worse (here) for thirty years.

    I want to see policies which reverse the trend and this one (top unis to cost a great deal in fees) doesn't fit the bill.

  • Comment number 48.

    It seems to me that the students from rich backgrounds will be ok because of their parent’s wealth. It also seems to me that students from poor backgrounds will be ok because of government hand-outs. The students I feel sorry for are those from average income families, these students will have to suffer the brunt of the hike in tuition fees.

  • Comment number 49.

    Pinoccio Clegg is an even bigger fool than he appears already if he thinks Oxford and Cambridge will not charge £9,000 - the Russell group of Universities as well for that matter. The fact is with the cuts to University funding as they are the only way they can even break even is to charge £7-8,000. If extra cash is needed to provide the additional facilities students will expect then all will be forced to charge £9,000 - expensive for the Government in up front costs and a disaster for Lib Dem liars - frankly I think this is the end of the Lib Dem party their support is already in single figures and only likely to drop further. Good riddance.

  • Comment number 50.

    And yet more untruthes

  • Comment number 51.

    Clegg appeared not to care about the coming generation.Maybe a generation that will be termed "The Lost Generation".This is elitism and is meant to ensure only the wealthy can attain a university education.This coalition stink from top to bottom.Protest as much as you can.You can be assured you will not be alone............

  • Comment number 52.

    As far as i can see it their are two choices for 18 year olds today. Go on the dole or take a out loans in excess of £40k for a substandard degree.

    Sorry there is a third choice, leave Britain in search of work.

    I know which I would do.

  • Comment number 53.

    Idont Believeit @41

    Do you think that there was alternative for Clegg? The ‘rainbow coalition’ perhaps?

    Personally, I think Cameron was a fool to get in bed with Clegg. He should have strung the Liberals along, waited for Clegg to make the demand for PR and then ‘drop him’, straight into Brown's outstretched arms.

    Cameron should have played it ‘long’; nobody was going to accept Brown staying in power and Cameron could have brought down the ‘rainbow’ whenever he chose. It would have been ‘mutually assured self-destruction’ for the Lib-Lab’s.

    Because, he didn't play it long, the Conservatives are going to take all the pain for the fix, and Labour’s misdemeanours (not that you see any for some reason) will be conveniently forgotten!

  • Comment number 54.

    It important to remember: a rich family will pay £27,000 up front, no interest, and be done with it.

    Someone from a Lower middle class family will pay £27,000 plus interest...
    And, if that person averages £40,000 over the length of their careers, at 5% inflation, they'll pay £48,000 extra to... that's right, the Banks!

    More than anything, else the effect of this is to move what was once an interest free expenditure for the taxpayer (being paid annually from taxation) to an interest liable loan from which the City gets its cut.

  • Comment number 55.

    30. At 7:14pm on 09 Feb 2011, Eatonrifle wrote:
    Clegg and the Fib Dems pulled off the biggest voter con in our political history.

    He'll reap what he sewed, beginning this May, it will probably cost him the AV vote as thousands either stay away or vote against change as retribution on Clegg for delivering a Tory government on the backs of student debts.

    Thanks Clegg, I hope you're eying up a safe Tory seat as your 30 pieces of silver.

    ==========================

    Second that sentiment.

    I have decided to vote against AV for this reason (and prior to this I would have selected yes as a move toward proper PR) and I encourage anyone else who believes the most important thing todays taxpayers and voters can do it provide every opportunity to the next generation without leaving them in debt up to their eyeballs whilst lecturing upon the morals of financial rectitude and excessive debt to do the same.

    And if anyone thinks the AV referendum is important in its own right - remember Clegg himself called AV a miserable little compromise. So hardly that important really.

    Politically he would be better advised to let the Lords stuff the whole bill up so he doesn't have to face the failure which I hope is his due.

  • Comment number 56.

    The problem for Nick Clegg and the government is that they have little power or influence in these matters.

    What will they do if universities go their own way and just put up their charges? What sanctions are in place to stop them?

    We have already seen how ineffective they were against the banks and it is understandable that people are sceptical about their actions.

    What will the government do if people decide not to go to university?

    What will they do when services like the NHS cannot get enough homegrown recruits from our universities?

    What will the government do if students emigrate and take up a cheaper university education option elsewhere?

    Like a number of things I don't believe the government have thought things through and as a nation we will be the worse for that.

  • Comment number 57.

    This is but one issue on which Clegg has been wanting. When I voted for him I thought he was a man of principle that would oppose the extreme policies of the Tories. When he lead his party into a coalition, I thought he would act as a brake on Tory policies.

    Sadly he has let people like me down. I cannot ever trust his party again. I suspect there will be many students who will never trust him again.

    Equally he has let down those who want proportional representation since the forst step to AV will be lost due to his inability to focus on the one question. Instead he connives in sordid boundary adjustments that give Labour the opportunity to withhold support.

    The students are right to give Clegg a hard time, he is becoming the sort of politician that he claimed to despise.

  • Comment number 58.

    left school at 15 in 1950 still working no complaints about nick clegg

  • Comment number 59.

    It's a shame that this debate brings out the 'more means worse' crowd.

    We need more people to attain higher skills in this country, that means more people getting university level education - not necessarily degrees in the standard way. That's why there was nothing wrong with the thought that half the population ought to have had education beyond the level of a school leaver by the time they were thirty. That's not that half the population should go away to university in the way that was normalised in the 1960s.

    So, we then have the nonsense of a government trying to hold several sets of contradictory thoughts simultaneously: that universities should cost less to the taxpayer, and at the same time introducing a system that can only ever cost more; that universities should be free in a market, and that they should be shackled to a regulator; that more people should get into 'top' universities and at the same time reducing any incentive for those universities to recruit more by forcing them to cut expenditure on those very students.

    And then there are the Liberal Democrats, the icing on the cake in this whole saga. We might have expected a market solution from the Tories, but from the Lib Dems?...

  • Comment number 60.

    "One root of the problem is that the wealthy buy themselves out of any public education from primary level, and have no stake in what the rest of the population is offered." - balzac @ 25

    A key point. We need the monied classes to buy into the mainstream not secrete themselves away from it. This is the sine qua non.

  • Comment number 61.

    Couple of points really: how does Clegg presume to dictate admissions policy to top universities? They admit undergraduates educated, or educable (admissions tutors often bend over backwards to let in students as intelligent but less well educated as those from some private schools) up to a certain level. Relax this and reputation slips, while global standing slides.

    Secondly, if the £9,000 fee is a large step along the road to the privatisation of tertiary education, how can any government presume to dictate policy to those quasi-privatised institutions?

  • Comment number 62.

    What is not often mentioned here is the vast numbers of middle income families who will be devastated by this and all the other "changes" to various payments (e.g. child benefit, tax credit etc). Our family income is modest but above the levels for any kind of benefit. We don't live extravagantly and have little left at the end of the month. Do I really encourage my children to go to university and come out with a debt of £40-50k and no promise of a job? I think personally there are too many people doing degrees and not enough jobs that require one.

  • Comment number 63.

    distant traveller @ 23

    Yes we agree on this, don't we? Big difference (between us) is I used to quite like the Lib Dems whereas you've always hated (!) them. So, you know, score one for the DT.

  • Comment number 64.

    43. At 8:10pm on 09 Feb 2011, MCPWilk wrote:
    When I went to university approximately 15% of school leavers went on to university, and we had our fees paid with means tested grants. Tony Blair came up with the catchy soundbite that 50% should go. There is no way that the country can afford the same largesse, ............Nick Clegg is playing at social engineering. University education must be academically elitist, or this country will fall by the wayside compared to other emerging nations. ...............The irony is that when we had grammer schools, the percentage of state school leavers going to Oxbridge comfortably exceeded that of independent schools. With the comprehensivisation of the state school system, the percentages have reversed. We have gone from a situation where our prime ministers were state educated (Wilson, Heath, Callaghan,Thatcher), to one where they have been privately educated (Blair, Cameron). Quite an achievement for a left wing educational establishment.

    ................
    Very well said.



  • Comment number 65.

    The "We're making sure that students from the poorest homes are helped to pay their fees" tape loop has become a very inadequate fig leaf for Nick Clegg.... its those from the not-quite-the-poorest homes, where worries about job security, rising food and petrol prices and an inability to pay the mortgage, who will be denied higher education. Investment bankers never have to worry about paying their children's tuition fees and living expenses. These are the basic truths that Clegg and his mendacious new friends dont understand .. or refuse to acknowledge .. and will condemn future generations to hopelessness.

  • Comment number 66.

    I am from a poor background, but was very lucky to be able to go to university back in the early seventies, back in the days when a graduate had real opportunities, when our society was more meritocratic. I doubt that I would consider going to university in the UK today, with the debt on graduation and the lack of employment opportunities for the non-privately educated.

    My Mother-in-Law, a Conservative voter her entire life, told me only last week that England has gone back to the 30's when you could only get a job (not a 'good' job) if you had contacts or had gone to the right school. This was on the back of her two grandchildren deciding to leave the UK because they don't like our class-based society and they want to succeed in genuine meritocracies. One has an MSc and the other speaks 3 languages and was measured as having one of the top IQ's in her top 10 grammar school.

    My experiences and those of my children come from a planet that Clegg has never lived on, nor experienced. He is delusional or a cold-hearted liar.

  • Comment number 67.

    "I can not agree with Sagamix @ 7" - jim @ 39

    Fair enough, you have family obligation and self-sufficiency as top of the pops. For me, however, a person's life chances will always be VERY dependent on family background, their parents etc - this is inevitable - and so I want to see government policies acting against the grain of that; making family background less important not even more so.

  • Comment number 68.

    I would like to ask Nick if he thinks he is a role model for the young people..if yes, should we all make pledges and break them ?..or plead that we made the pledge when circumstances were different and hence it dosent count..

    dosent matter how good the policy is..the problem is that is not the basis on which we voted

  • Comment number 69.

    How must it feel to have voted LibDem at the last election - it's all coming home now - no secrets about rushing through legislation it's now or never as hopefully it will not last as they must know . The Libcon has amazingly supported the very Con ideals of an elitist society - they have never been otherwise how can Mr Clegg square his pre - election ''beliefs'' with what is happening re the universities - Big sighs of relief all around the Cabinet as they are kind of back to the good old days ''Brideshead Revisited'' - Social mobility?
    Goodbye Lib Dem Cons.

  • Comment number 70.

    Ooops another LibDem minister gone. But on the bright side it was great to see my fellow ginger Danny A back on the telly again to announce the sacking (oops again, I mean mutual consenting - how typically Liberal).

    I see there is a growing rumble amongst the right-leaning posters that the LibDems are a bit rubbish and really good Dave and his really brill Tories should never have had to consort with these lightweights. Poor Nick, he takes everything thrown at him by his Tory partners and still has to take the blame. Isn't a single digit opinion poll rating and a racing certainty Scottish and English council election trouncing enough for these nasty horrid Tories.

  • Comment number 71.

    It is just so insulting for Nick Clegg and others in the Coalition to keep on saying we don't understand their plan.

    At the moment you DON'T pay upfront fees, so why keep telling us in the new plan you won't pay upfront fees.

    Its not JUST the fees, students have to live and the cost of student living accommodation is obscene unless of course Daddy buys you a pad to live in while you study.
    It costs as much as the fees to live while studying, accommodation, food heating, books etc., so that money has to be found too.
    So £27,000 fees plus £27,-£30, 000 fees to live over the course of the studies.

    You don't pay back until you earn £25,000. Does Nick Clegg have any idea what its like to live on £25K, especially in London.
    Room in a house £125.00 per week= £500.00 per month, oyster card £184.00per month, plus food, plus council tax, plus electricity, plus plus, plus.
    That is the reality and they are told on top of this to save for their retirement and at least 20% deposit for a mortgage.

    What world do they live in, clearly not the one the rest of us are having to live in.

    The trouble is this Government really doesn't care, words are cheap and throw away.
    but
    They might think we don't understand but we do have the ability to remember and remember long term and I am sure people will remember the promises made and thrown away when the chance of power beckoned and these politicians will be reminded of this at the ballot box

  • Comment number 72.

    43 MCPWilk

    The irony is that when we had grammer schools, the percentage of state school leavers going to Oxbridge comfortably exceeded that of independent schools. With the comprehensivisation of the state school system, the percentages have reversed. We have gone from a situation where our prime ministers were state educated (Wilson, Heath, Callaghan,Thatcher), to one where they have been privately educated (Blair, Cameron). Quite an achievement for a left wing educational establishment.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The irony is wasted on some.

    The state sector no longer educates enough of its brightest pupils to the level where they can attend the best universities. The left complain about the universities rather than the school system.

    Maybe one of the lefties on here will explain how the abolition of grammar schools has aided social mobility in practice.

  • Comment number 73.

    How many Lib Dems does it take to change a lightbulb?

    Three: one to say they will never, ever change the lightbulb, one to change the lightbulb, and one to say the lightbulb hasn't really changed.

  • Comment number 74.

    john bull @ 53

    I think a fair few traditional tories feel that way, that Cameron should have "played it long" (as you put it), gone into opposition and waited for a cobbled-together Lib Lab administration to implode; then won an election soon after with an outright majority. And it might have worked - yes definitely might have - but the thing is, getting to be Prime Minister is such a Glittering Prize that it's a very rare person indeed who wouldn't carpe diem when the chance is offered. Might be the only chance you get.

  • Comment number 75.

    Nick Clegg is truly unbelievable.

    This is the guy who before the last election bellowed at Gordon Brown about being honest with the electorate and to apologise for the economic position the country was in (despite the fact that I doubt Clegg knew what that was - not even sure now that the clown Cable knew either).

    Now having publicly pledged to not increase tuition fees and being televised/photographed with the stupid written pledges, he has the gall to say he won't apologise.

    He now also tries to shift blame onto the universities when they suggest they just might charge the £9000 fees Clegg helped put in place. Quelle surprise Nicky boy.

    I'm beginning to see what the Tory bloggers are getting at. He really is totally inept and its a real shame the Torylition has to be a lition. How to trash a polticial party.

  • Comment number 76.

    timetoponder, I am not happy with the idea of fees rising but I think your post about living expenses need to be put into perspective:

    I was not happy when I was living in London, earning £19,000 pounds a year barely even paying off the interest on my £15,000 pound student debt (all from living expenses as my mother didn't earn enough money for me to have to pay hardly any tuition fees). So I decided to train to be a teacher. 2 years ago I started as an unqualified teacher on £23,000. Then my salary went up to £27,000 when I qualified last year. Now I work in a private school with a salary of £34,000. Even though I have larger expenses now I am on track to save £5000 this year, so could wipe off my debt in just over 3 more years - not exactly a lifetime of hardship. I am not saying that it is right, but student debt is manageable, provided your degree allows you to command a decent salary.

    The housing issue in London is ridiculous though, on that I completely agree with you.

  • Comment number 77.

    Ah the dangers of making promises when in opposition - can't feel sorry for the LibDems on this one.

    It was inevitable Oxbridge would go for the highest fees - regardless of the fact that the fees are not paid up front, this will be a huge disincentive for poorer students

  • Comment number 78.

    It may be good fun despising the libdems, but come on, they didn't dream they might be held to account on their manifesto commitments, and as the junior partners in a coalition they are offsetting the hard right.

    Not a bad outcome, if you think about it.

    I do think the facts about fees need better exposure- in the early days of the Blair government it would have been spindoctored as a massive investment at every opportunity. This lot too shy?

  • Comment number 79.

    AS71 @ 72

    Fantastic irony that you had to correct the spelling of grammer (sic) in the contet of education.

    Anyway, enough smart alec spell checking.

    Private schools, grammar schools, middle class parents selecting their kids high schools - its all about cherry picking. Those with most money or who shout the loudest (or lie about their actual address) tip the educational balance in the favour of their children. The kids unlucky enough not to have this then get left behind. This tends to be those at the lower ends of the socio-economic scale - hence the stubborn lack of mobility in the UK (Alan Milburn's recent TV programme showed some nice highlights but weighed down with some depressingly familiar same old).

    Yes we should seek an education system (school and uni) that still encourages top attainment but we should absolutely seek to make it as fair as possible, no matter how much money you have or where you live or how loud your parents can shout. Unfortunately no education system so far in the UK has achieved this. Harking back to grammar schools isn't going to change the history on this one.

  • Comment number 80.

    Thank you SO MUCH 71 as you really said it all and hit the points -£25K must be grim in London and it's not so good anywhere - I think it really does come down to a growing concern that the people who are apparently running the country on a daily basis just do not have clue as to how most of the rest of us actually LIVE and I include a lot of MPs in that. MUCH OF THIS COMES FROM THEIR BACKGROUND AND A KIND OF BLINKERED VIEW OF THE WORLD.
    Very few of the people making the rules have actually lived anything like a normal average or below average existence -

  • Comment number 81.

    76. spencer01
    "The housing issue in London is ridiculous though, on that I completely agree with you. "

    How true!

    If there were fewer houses, then perhaps that would result in fewer issue, then the rest of the UK wouldn't have to constantly fund your infrastructure.

  • Comment number 82.

    As an American national living in London since mid 1980s , whose parents scrimped and saved to finance 3 years of 4 of my undergraduate degree while I worked summers to pay for 1 year of 4, and who has paid every penny of 3 other postgraduate degrees in the UK , I can comment that British students still have it pretty lucky.

  • Comment number 83.

    sagamix

    Tell me: have you read Frank Field's report ("The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor adults")? If so, what did you make of it - and if not, why not?

    I ask, because you seem to be attempting (albeit tacitly) to raise the ignoring of its contents to the level of being a religious observance.

  • Comment number 84.

    72. At 9:34pm on 09 Feb 2011, AS71 wrote:
    43 MCPWilk

    The irony is that when we had grammer schools, the percentage of state school leavers going to Oxbridge comfortably exceeded that of independent schools. With the comprehensivisation of the state school system, the percentages have reversed. We have gone from a situation where our prime ministers were state educated (Wilson, Heath, Callaghan,Thatcher), to one where they have been privately educated (Blair, Cameron). Quite an achievement for a left wing educational establishment.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The irony is wasted on some.

    The state sector no longer educates enough of its brightest pupils to the level where they can attend the best universities. The left complain about the universities rather than the school system.

    Maybe one of the lefties on here will explain how the abolition of grammar schools has aided social mobility in practice.

    =================

    The real irony is who was education minister when the largest number of grammars were cpomprehensivised and for some reason wasted the opportunity to stop the conversion which had not become irrevocable by that time.

    Considering that since that change was made the majority of years in government have been blue years it is a hollow political arguement. At any time between 1979 and 1997 your preffered party could have changed the system but didn't.
    Is meritocratic selective education by setting or separate schools likely to work to best advantage of the cleverest - most definitely. The current split systems proves it very clearly.

    The problem with comprehensive system was instead of the brightest going to the best schools on merit - the best schools became the preserves of those who could afford to live in the catchment area which segregated schools by social class a very regressive move. Hence the opportunity was linked to ability to pay.

  • Comment number 85.

    Students have been systematically bludgeoned into a state of confusion and despair by conflicting messages since 1992, which is when all the polytechnics were awarded university status. Having been brought up with this expansion of the university sector and encouraged to pursue tertiary education, they are now being told they can't have it unless they are rich.

    No wonder, then, that the student body can't step outside itself and realise that the reason students are having this situation inflicted upon them is because despite their abilities, skills and potential, *they are unable to fight back* in any real sense. They have nothing they can withhold from society and there are no sanctions they can impose on the rest of us - they are, quite simply, a soft, defenceless target.

    The government knows this and is fully aware that it can cynically rip student funding to shreds with impunity. Bankers can threaten to emigrate, tube staff can paralyse London, others can simply refuse to provide society with its essential needs, but all the work that students will do for society is yet to come. Right now, though, there's nothing stopping the government from kicking them into asquiescence.

    The other thing everyone, everywhere needs to take on board is that without the work done by university graduates, we'd all be living in mud huts. We'd have no infrastructure, communications, education system, food distribution or anything else that makes life bearable, because these are complicated things that require clever people to make them work. Feel free to maintain otherwise, if you like, provided you then think about what would happen if university graduates had the option of withholding their skills, products and services from those who don't think the student case is valid.

    If any students or sympathetic activists read this, *please* take these two ideas on board and *please* articulate them during your campaigning. They are big, awkward truths that everyone needs to wake up to.

  • Comment number 86.

    Lot’s of people on here going on about University education & social mobility as if it’s the only option available to a better paid vocation.
    Nonsense of course, trouble is that the ConDem’s are putting the knife into all areas of further education including – for example – my local skills Collage that has just announced closure of courses designed to fast track the unemployed to become skilled Electricians due to cuts.

    You need to look outside of the box people; this isn’t just about University education; it’s the whole system of further education that’s at stake here.

    The ConDem’s just don’t get & it & Clueless Clegg isn’t helping.
    He got just what he wanted & now, like Brown, seems way out of his depth.

    I can only conclude that the ConDems really don’t see any real long term future for the majority of us in the UK at all.

    No matter, they will be OK, so every cloud has a sliver lining.




  • Comment number 87.

    Well this is typical BBC lefty strident angry young man knock the Coalition type stuff.

    A crowd of rude, selfish and arrogant young people trying to push themselves. How dare they? Many students aren't clever enough to go to university and they are certainly not well behaved enough either.

    They should get a job - then they might really grow up.

    No wonder Nick Clegg looked fed up. This was a BBC set up - a trap. Absolutely typical. I don't know why I watched the BBC news as I much prefer ITV. Won't watch again that's for sure.

  • Comment number 88.

    Clegg's predicament shows the perils of making a "deal" with a special interest group of voters, who promise to vote for a party solely on the basis of one policy. Clegg was foolish to get into this, and to his credit realised before the election how stupid it was and tried to backtrack, but the party activists wouldn't let him. Doubtless they thought, we're libdems ! we won't be in power, we can promise anything we'll never have to actually deliver it.

    As for the students who now complain so loudly, they were short-sighted not to realise this. when voting for a party you must consider that that party could be in govt for 5 years with your vote. it was well understood there was a crisis of funding in higher education, and that with the massive deficit, dipping hands even deeper into the cookie jar marked "taxpayers money" was out of the question.

  • Comment number 89.

    Last year a really nice lady wearing LibDem colours persuaded me to vote for her party because, she claimed, it was the best way to ensure that Britain would be saved from Tory policies, like putting up student fees.

    Just now I feel that the LibDems have betrayed the trust I put in them. I would describe the feeling I have about them as similar to how you feel about a partner who has just been unfaithful.

    I doubt that I will put my cross against the LibDem candidate as long as Nick Clegg is their leader. And instead of trying to use weasel words they need to start apologising. And they need to keep apologising and showing that they understand why I am feeling so hurt.

  • Comment number 90.

    So Mr Clegg,
    It is a shame that none of the students in your audience picked up on this. Perhaps they were intimidated by you, or perhaps an indication of the lack of independent thinking that university should be encouraging.

    You stated that the Goverment estimates that 60% of students will not pay for their university education. So he is stating that the forecast is that 60% of will not earn more than £21K. Well that seems a really worthwhile deal doesn't it?

    Your performance was pathetic. By the way, I would not vote Labour. I came froma 'disadvantaged' background and all they want is to perpetualise a system of relative poverty that ensure their existance. However here is one vote you won't be getting again.

  • Comment number 91.

    One can understand people might not like what the LibDems have done. But it does smack of considerable immaturity on the part of the students. Did they really think that all the LibDems stood for, and yes, even made a point of principle would be put into practice? I’m afraid their naivety is depressing. Government without majority or coalition as we term it, invariably means sacrifices on all those concerned.

    If these politically illiterate students had simply cast their eyes north of the Border today they would have seen coalition politics in action. No histrionics. Just MSPs agreeing to concentrate on the key issues to get a Budget through the Scottish Parliament. SNP were supported by the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. Up here, coalition works. And people understand it.

  • Comment number 92.

    There is an enormous quantity of cant and hypocrisy being spouted on this issue, and only a relatively small amount comes from the Government. Students, a minority of the country, have no legitimate right whatsoever to expect the remainder of the population to subsidise them while they obtain Further Education credentials which will enhance their personal earning potential. Further, it is economic illiteracy of the worst sort to set the level of fees (still !) below the costs actually faced by the top Universities themselves. As long as Oxford and Cambridge continue to lose money on every undergraduate they admit, they will continue to lose ground internationally to more sensibly and better-funded Universities. Destroying one of our great global brands in this fashion will do our country no good at all.
    We should be taking a leaf out of US private universities' book - charging the prices the market will bear to those who can afford it, and using the profits thus generated to offer genuinely needs-blind admission to those who can't, but have still attained the necessary level of academic attainment.

  • Comment number 93.

    6. At 6:15pm on 09 Feb 2011, IR35_SURVIVOR wrote:
    This country cannot afford or requires a situation where 50% go to uni
    The money is simply not there.

    What we need is a properly managed education and employement policy that has been lacking for 15 years, rather than targets for targets sake

    Quite right Mr. IR35_SURVIVOR but if younsters these days don't go on to higher education what exactly do you suggest they do?
    Also your memory is failing - it was the previous Con government's (Maggie etc 30 years ago) scortched earth policies dessimated industry/manufacturing leaving little alternative to employment in "service industries" (larf). Little wonder then that we're "educating" workers in golf course architecture and hotel management - not much call for boiler makers, engineers, designers around these parts these days !!!!!

  • Comment number 94.

    Granted, he didn't win the election. Granted, he's not in a position to force through his policies. He made the pledges at before the election, but the one thing I would like Nick Clegg to answer is this: we ALL knew about the state of the country's finances, even if only approximately, before the election; how is it that he and his party could even begin to comprehend abolishing tuition fees if they knew this?

  • Comment number 95.

    The deficit is BAD, borrowing money that we haven't got (even if it is to invest in growth) is a BAD thing.
    Students need to borrow money to invest in their future, this is GOOD. They are investing now so that they can make more money in the future, which will be a GOOD thing.

    Anyone else see a contradiction!!!

    And don't get me started on a bunch of millionaire, public schoolboys with their free degrees voting to economically enslave the next generation...


  • Comment number 96.

    87. Flame

    Don’t blame the BBC; Clegg set himself up for ridicule the moment he started making silly promises & carrying out pathetic publicity stunts like signing phoney pledges.

    Seems rather more childish than the Students you criticise; perhaps it’s Clegg who ought to go out & find himself a proper job because he certainly can’t handle the one he’s got.

    Nobody forced him to appear – why the long wait anyway?

    If this is Clegg’s attempt at damage limitation, then he will certainly "bomb" (again).

  • Comment number 97.

    Alan addison you just don't get it do you? The Lib Dems did not win the election and they cannot push all their policies through.

    Not that hard to understand is it? But then again....

  • Comment number 98.

    Next election. Can't decide between Labs and Cons ?

    Why not waste your vote? Vote LibDem!

    It would be like tossing a coin. No telling which side of the House they will sit on.

  • Comment number 99.

    Alan at no 89

    just shows how misguided some lib dems are - with the huge mess the country was in under Brown, the main concern of the nice libdem lady at the election was stopping tory policies.

    Clegg doesn't need to apologise to the BBC selection of loony lefty students, he should tell them he's showing what they sadly lack: courage, maturity and an ability to recognise that when the facts change the sensible person changes their mind.

  • Comment number 100.

    What's wrong with part-paying for degree 'n discouraging the wasters? What is wrong with Students that they demand a subsidised education that will give them a huge advantage to kick start their careers and advance them further later in life? Don't they realise they can't have, the country can't have, what cannot be paid for. Socialists threw around too much borrowed money for too long and the Kids think it's theirs as a right.

 

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