Following his speech to the Liberal Democrat Conference in Liverpool asking delegates to hold their nerve and stick with him, students are encouraging Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to remember his commitment to them to vote against any rise in tuition fees and to press for a fairer alternative.
This follows comments at an NUS fringe meeting last night from Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, who said that the party's MPs must "stand firm" on its promises and pledges on top up fees, saying he expected them to be abolished.
The Liberal Democrats promised the abolition of fees over a period of six years in their 2010 general election manifesto.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has been vocal in his advocacy of a contribution linked to real earnings after graduation, calling tuition fees a ‘poll tax’ on students in a speech in July. In an interview this weekend he said, “We're talking about a graduate contribution, paid for after graduation, which will reflect people's earnings. That's a basic principle.”
Aaron Porter, NUS President, said:
“It is clear that there is a consensus amongst Liberal Democrats, from the highest echelons of the leadership, through to party activists here at the conference, that they must honour their promises to voters and that tuition fees have to go.”
“Nick Clegg, along with every other Liberal Democrat MP, made a commitment during the general election, to vote against higher fees and press for a fairer alternative. The thousands of students in his constituency, and millions more around the country, will expect him to stick to that pledge.”
“We agree with Vince that the current system is a poll tax. Now they are in Government, the Liberal Democrats have a golden opportunity to achieve one of their most established aims by replacing tuition fees with a fairer and more sustainable alternative.”