“I believe tuition fees are wrong, I believe they need to be abolished"
Unlike Labour, who over 13 years of misrule could not see the consequences of "spend, spend, spend", Nick told Party Conference last year that the country may well not be able to afford the abolition of tuition fees; he maintained that they were a policy he could not abide and would, when circumstances were better, move to abolish.
In his first major speech as University Minister, David "I Had Two Brains Once" Willetts has sown the possibility of tuition fees having to rise, or at least remaining in place for English students. His blame falls on Labour;
Labour left a system on shaky financial foundations, without a viable long-term future
He went on to say;
"If fees were to go up, the government would have to lend people the money to pay for them - and that would push up public spending...It's not just that students don't want to pay higher fees: the Treasury can't afford them"
Universities are not scraping the barrels quite yet; there are alternative revenue streams aside from the Government or tuition fees. As in all areas of spending over the next 12 months, 2 years, cost-cutting will have to be looked at from the very top to bottom. After 13 years of economic misrule, we all have to suffer the consequences.
The "T"'s threatening the stability of the coalition - Trident, Tuition Fees, taxes - have all shaken the alliance since polling day. As I have always done, since their forced introduction, I will oppose university tuition fees. Their abolition for Scottish students in Scotland shows it can be done.
Tuition fees are inexcusable, a mortgage on education, a tax on learning. Students should not leave with the cost of a family car around their neck for the sake of their future careers. Reviewing what Universities spend, and how, is vital for the coalition.
But I will not support an increase in tuition fees. The consequences of the ill-thought out plan should not be putting more strain on students. Too many short-term errors were made by Labour - the arbitrary 50% aim for University admissions, for example, which now "ties in" future governments to the level else to look elitist. The aim of 50% has opened up the gates to too many students chasing too little places; little wonder smaller institutions are now feeling the financial strain. Little wonder the students loan service is close to imploding under the pressure.
Nothing related to spending commitments will be easy, with the tight constraints of the previous Government boxing in the aims of this one - "There is no money left!". No matter the change in context, though, my convictions stay the same. I agree with Nick; tuition fees must, at some point, be abolished.