Norfolk beauty queen joins student fees debate

The chorus of student protest against tuition fees was yesterday joined by Norfolk beauty queen Jessica Linley, who was crowned Miss England in September.

The 21-year-old, who won Miss Norwich 2008, is studying law at Nottingham University where she is also a treasurer of the law society and finance officer for the athletic union.

The Brundall beauty, who has taken a gap year to carry out her Miss England duties, described the proposed increase as 'unacceptable''.

'Everyone should be entitled to an education, but too few people will be able to afford one at �9,000 a year,' she said. 'I certainly wouldn't be able to study at university with the increased fees and I am concerned that once I return to my studies, I may also have to pay these ridiculous rates.

'I am already two years into my law degree and need to carry on studying so I can go on to train as a solicitor. These sweeping austerity measures are unacceptable.''

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Miss Linley is also planning a year abroad to study Chinese law but may have to reconsider her options.

'Raising tuition fees will ultimately lead to more educational inequalities and we will see a dramatic fall in the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university.

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'Only those people with wealthy parents will be able to go and they will be the ones ending up with all the best jobs. Young people are now going to have to think carefully about whether it's worth going to university, as they might come away with tens of thousands of pounds-worth of debt and nothing to show for it. There are enough barriers in education already and it is sad it has come to this.''

Miss Linley urged those taking part in protests to ensure they remained peaceful.

She said: 'Protests are a good way of putting pressure on the government. It's important to have a voice, but once you introduce violence, people stop listening to you.

'The actions of November 10 were down to a small minority of people and it's not fair to tar all those who took part in the demonstrations with the same brush.

'So many people feel let down by the coalition government, especially those students who voted for the Liberal Democrats, as they did on the basis that tuition fees would eventually be phased out.

'What is happening needs to be challenged and I think it's important that more demonstrations take place, as long as those planned remain peaceful.'

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