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November 23, 2009 6:15 PM

Only the Liberal Democrats will scrap tuition fees, Newcastle campaigner Ron Beadle will tell students this week.

The Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle North is addressing a National Union of Students debate on the future of higher education funding.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party that believes university education should be free and everyone who has the ability should be able to go and not be put off by the cost.

The Conservatives have suggested they will increase tuition fees to £7,000 if they take power at the next General Election.

That will see tuition fees for undergraduates more than double. Currently there is a cap of £3,300 in England and Wales.

Peter Mandelson has already suggested that Labour will allow universities to charge more than at present if re-elected though the party is too scared to push through the changes it wants before June.

Ron Beadle, who lectures in business at Northumbria University, will tell students: "I already have students having to go home because they have run out of money - it is a tragic waste. Higher fees would make this worse.

"Entry to higher education should be decided on academic merit alone.

"Higher tuition fees would turn universities into finishing schools for the middle class and curtail the aspirations of bright young people from ordinary backgrounds."

The 'Town Takeover' debate, which is part of the National Union of Students Funding Our Future campaign, takes place at Newcastle Civic Centre on November 24, starting at 7pm.

Other speakers are Wes Streeting, President of the NUS; Henri Murison, Labour councillor for South Heaton on Newcastle City Council; and Dominic Llewellyn, Conservative Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East.