PM: Fees rise should keep foreign student charges lower

Prime Minister David Cameron tells students in China why rises in tuition fees will help them

Increasing tuition fees should mean future rises in foreign students' charges can be kept lower, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

He was replying to a student at Peking University who asked about the impact of the rise on international students.

Mr Cameron said in the past fees charged to foreign students had been pushed up "as a way of keeping them down on our domestic students".

But they had "done the difficult thing" of putting up English students' fees.

The result of this was that "foreign students will still pay a significant amount of money - but we should be able to keep that growth under control".

Mr Cameron delivered his speech on the day thousands of students are protesting outside Parliament about the proposed near trebling of student fees in England.

He began his answer by saying "how much we want to welcome international students to Britain", including the estimated 85,000 students from China currently studying in the UK.

Well-funded

He said it was a "great way of forming a partnership between our countries".

"The links you will form, people to people link as powerful possibly more powerful - in the end our world will be safer and our countries safer if young people form links that make clear will work together in the commons interest of our world," he said.

Asked about the fees rise, which he said the coalition preferred to call "student contributions", he said it would do two things.

"First of all it will make sure that our universities are well funded and well supported, because our universities have to compete with universities in China and India and America.

"But the second thing those additional fees will actually mean, I think, is that we won't go on increasing so fast the fees on overseas students, because in the past we have been pushing up the fees on overseas students and using that as a way of keeping them down on our domestic students.

"So we have done the difficult thing in our government which is to put up the contributions from British students. Yes foreign students will still pay a significant amount of money, but we should be able to keep that growth under control."

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