Norfolk students’ fury at fees vote
Angry Norfolk students pledged to keep up the pressure on local MPs last night as they spoke of their 'outrage' at the decision to increase tuition fees to up to �9,000 per year.
At the same time, the county's two Liberal Democrat MPs told of the 'difficult' situation faced by their party after one voted for and one against the increase.
While all of the region's Tories voted with the government, Norwich South Lib Dem Simon Wright voted against. But North Norfolk Lib Dem Norman Lamb supported the proposals.
Immediately after the vote, Tom Dolton, communications officer for the Union of University of East Anglia (UEA) Students, which had a strong representation in London yesterday, said: 'We are outraged and disappointed with the result of today's parliamentary vote on tuition fees.
'The Increase in tuition fees will place an unfair burden on the country's future students. The rise will undoubtedly discourage those who have academic ability, but not financial support, from attending further and higher education.
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'The union also questions the government's focus and commitment to widening participation.
'The burden of this increase will hit the Treasury now, it is not helping the economy; it is crippling it for the future. The union will now begin lobbying MPs across the region over the new laws for higher education being proposed in the New Year.'
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Mr Dolton added: 'Education is a right, not a privilege. Today we saw another crippling blow to free education. We will continue to campaign and lobby MPs and parliament to realise the impact their decision will have upon students, universities and the future of our country.'
Back at UEA, 3rd year business degree student James Diamond said: 'This really is a disgrace. We are going to be remembered as the generation that saved the bankers. Maybe they could save the students now. Where's our rebate?'
Mr Wright, who came under considerable pressure in the run-up to the vote from UEA students on his patch, said: 'I'm disappointed that we are in this position. I came into politics as someone who opposed tuition fees and I still do.
'We've now seen a significant increase in the size of those fees, which will make it much harder for any future government to abolish tuition fees.'
He added: 'However, I recognise that there are some significant positive aspects to the proposals. It was with a heavy heart that I voted against the coalition.'
Mr Lamb, who voted with the government, despite joining Mr Wright in signing a pre-election pledge to oppose any rise in tuition fees, said: 'it has been very difficult for us as a party, but it's the right thing to do because it creates a more progressive system.
'I think there's been a lot of misrepresentation of what these proposals are about. Extra help for students is what this is all about.'