Wales Election 2016

Labour will not means test tuition fee grants, says Carwyn Jones

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Media captionCarwyn Jones says he does not want to create a system of 'haves and have nots'

First Minister Carwyn Jones has ruled out means-testing for university tuition fee grants in future if Labour retains power in the assembly election.

His comments follow criticism of the policy from the body representing Welsh universities and opposition parties.

Mr Jones told BBC Wales he was "not attracted to the idea" of "putting huge amounts of debt on other students".

A policy review by Prof Sir Ian Diamond is due to be finished in September.

Students from Wales currently only pay £3,810 towards their tuition fees, wherever they study in the UK.

The rest, up to £5,190 a year, is paid for by the Welsh government.

The chair of Universities Wales has said tuition fee grants should be replaced by a means-tested grant to help poorer pupils.

Prof Colin Riordan has warned the policy threatens the future of higher education in Wales because tens of millions of pounds ends up in the coffers of universities in England.

Image caption The first minister was interviewed by BBC Wales political editor Nick Servini

But, in an interview with BBC Wales Today, Mr Jones said: "Means testing is not where we are going on this.

"We will have to look at what the Diamond review says but I am not attracted to the idea of simply doing what England does, and means testing and putting huge amounts of debt on other students.

"What we will never do is put Welsh students in the same financial position as their colleagues in England.

"That is the fundamental principle of what we will do in future."

The Welsh Conservatives have said they would scrap tuition fee subsidies and pay half of students' rent instead.

Plaid Cymru would also scrap the grants, and instead pay Welsh students working in Wales after graduation £6,000 a year, up to a maximum of £18,000.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats' policy is to replace tuition fee subsidies with maintenance grants, while UKIP says it would like to cut tuition fees.

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