So it’s as expected, but the vote was relatively close. Tuition fees for students to rise to up to £9000 p.a. Nick Clegg the only Liberal Democrat in a student constituency to vote in favour. I’ve been quite enjoying the photos of the student protests in London on the Guardian’s coverage this morning, but I also feel a kind of numb sense of bewilderment and worry at what is going to happen to Higher Education in this country. Maybe some of the Russell Group universities are quite happy and have wanted the cap on fees lifted already. Maybe they feel confident that students will keep rolling up to their courses regardless of how much fees are.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, Caroline Gipps, sent a letter to MPs prior to the vote. I think the sentiments expressed in her letter are pretty much spot on, particularly concerns about what this increase in fees may do to “risk and debt averse and older students”.
Last night I had a meal with some friends. We are all in our early 40s and the fees vote came up. We all come from a generation who paid no university tuition fees and had access to grants (not loans). Several of us, myself included, agreed that if we had been faced with the prospect of the kind of debts that students will now face, we might never have gone to university.