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LIB DEMS ARE THE ONLY PARTY TO CHALLENGE TUITION FEES, SAYS CHALLENGER

March 9, 2009 12:00 AM

A senior Lib Dem councillor has welcomed the party's decision to reaffirm its long standing policy of scrapping tuition fees for university undergraduates at its Spring Conference in Harrogate.

Councillor Greg Stone, who is leading the challenge to Labour Government Chief Whip Nick Brown, said his party was the only one challenging tuition fees.

The Lib Dems also announced plans to extend the policy of free tuition to part time students in a new policy paper on post-18 education.

The proposals for higher and further education, which aim to make high quality education and training available to all, include:

Councillor Greg Stone, Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East, said "Newcastle East has one of the highest concentrations of student voters of any constituency in the country, including areas such as Jesmond, Heaton, Sandyford, and Battlefield/St Ann's, as well as the new University of Northumbria campus.

"There are over 15,000 students living here, yet Labour MP Nick Brown played a crucial role in introducing tuition fees.

"I'm also aware of far too many students from less well off local families put off from going to university because of the cost.

"These are bright and able young people who are desperately worried about being saddled with debts of £10,000 or more even before living costs are considered.

"The Lib Dems believe that everyone deserves the chance to develop the skills and knowledge that will give them the best opportunities in life, and that the country cannot afford not to create a highly skilled workforce to lead us out of recession.

"The Lib Dems are the only major party committed to scrapping tuition fees for full and part time students, and improving access to apprenticeships, so that everyone can get the best education possible without being crippled by debt.

"Labour have let down thousands of students and families in Newcastle East on this issue."