December 23, 2009 11:00 AM

The Liberal Democrats have confirmed their commitment to scrapping university tuition fees.

The pledge will remain one of the party's most important policies and will see fees phased out over the next six years following the General Election

Ron Beadle, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle North, has welcomed the announcement.

"This is good news for students and for everyone who wants a fairer Britain," he said.

"Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have developed a plan to phase out tuition fees over the course of the next six years.

"This will ensure that this vital policy is affordable even during this time of economic crisis.

Mr Beadle, who has taught business at Northumbria University since 1992, said students from poorer backgrounds should not be deterred from higher education simply because of the cost.

"The decision on whether to go to university should not be based on your bank balance," he said.

"Labour and Conservatives refuse to address the issue and there is a real danger they would lift the cap on fees which could mean even more debt for students when they leave university."

The Lib Dem pledge comes as the Government plans to cut university funding by more than £500 million.

"The Government failed to live up to its commitment to fund extra university places and now it seems to be punishing the universities that went out of their way to help the pupils that had been let down," Mr Beadle said.

"Newcastle is a university city with further and higher education being the largest local employer.

"It is deeply worrying that our local universities will be forced to offer students less choice, lower standards and fewer teaching hours.

"Only the Liberal Democrats are prepared to stand up for students from all backgrounds.

"That's why we've pledged to scrap tuition fees and fight any plans to raise them."