University fees question time at North Walsham college

Sixth form students at Paston College in North Walsham staged a Question Time style debate on university fees.

About 200 of them put their queries to North Norfolk Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb and former Norwich North Labour member Dr Ian Gibson.

They debated whether increased fees of up to �9,000 a year would discourage young people, especially from less advantaged homes, from going to university.

Most agreed that university funding had to be rethought, and Mr Lamb worked hard to allay their fears about debt.

Some students were surprised that the coalition government had ignored the recent student protests and others were sceptical of the claim that the public finance deficit meant that cuts were inevitable.

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Rebekah Manfield, 17, from Norwich asked why the government had recently written off �6bn in tax owed by Vodafone and had done so little about tax evasion.

Peggy Baldwin, 18 from North Walsham, felt that families with several children but just over the threshold for the National Scholarship Programme would be unable to support all of them through university.

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Debate organiser, sociology teacher Joan Cherry, was delighted by 'the fantastic turn-out and excellent questioning which showed that students were not only aware of the issues but had thought through their own response.'

Dr Gibson said the debate was impressive, well-informed and 'as good as that seen at times in the House of Commons.

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