Tuition Fees

Part of Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 7:59 pm on 30th November 2010.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 7:59 pm, 30th November 2010

No. I will continue.

We were driven to the logic of the Browne report, which the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen and his colleagues set up. In responding to it, we have done two things. First, one of the questions that I asked Lord Browne, which it never occurred to the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to ask, was how do we make the system more progressive? I had to ask Lord Browne that because it was not part of his terms of reference. As a result, the Browne report has come out with a series of recommendations, many of which we have accepted, that make the system significantly better than the one that we inherited.

Let me deal with one of those measures, which relates to part-time students. The right hon. Gentleman talked about part-time students, but he forgot to mention that their fees were left unregulated by the previous Government. He has not mentioned that two thirds of part-time students are postgraduates. That explains the anomaly and his question. For part-time students reading for their first degree, under the changes that we are going to introduce, there will be no up-front fees, which was the arrangement left behind by the previous Government. Part-time students get a significantly better deal under our proposals than they would have done under the Opposition.