The long awaited Parliamentary vote on tuition fees rises was passed today by 21 votes.
Votes were taken at the House of Commons at 17.25 today for the proposed raising of tuition fees to £6,000. It passed with 323 votes for the bill and 302 votes against it.
Much controversy surrounded the vote, with MPs across all parties abstaining and a considerable number of Liberal Democrat MPs remaining silent during the debate, before voting against the government. It is estimated around 20 Liberal Democrat MPs rebelled.
Conservative MPs David Davis, Philip Davies, Andrew Percy, Mark Reckless and Jason McCartney are also all confirmed to have voted against the changes to higher education funding and fees. Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Willott, and Tory MP Lee Scott have both resigned as parliamentary aides over the issue.
The University have yet to release an official statement in regards to the now confirmed fee rises, although Pro-Vice Chancellor for Students, Jane Grenville spoke exclusively to Nouse this week, stating: “The University can’t really do anything about it now, but we can continue to deplore it and I don’t think there’s any difficulty over the fact that we haven’t changed our position over that.”
“They [students] are just becoming consumers and customers and if they’re buying an education we will get into all sorts of problems.”
Tim Ngwena, YUSU President, commented: “Unfortunately the bill has passed, even though students voiced their concerns about it. The consequences will be regressive, but YUSU are immediately planned to ensure the University now make their position on the rises absolutely clear, and that they maintain access to education and continue to offer a high level of it.”
Students who voted in confidence of the Liberal Democrat party have been voicing their disappointment and dissatisfaction over the past few weeks. Student protests continued today outside Parliament, with over 1,500 students present, though the protests have been marked by a notably increased police presence.
While the majority of today’s protesters have been reported as peaceful, a number have been treated for injuries by police batons, and several students have complained of being ‘kettled‘ in by police forces and prevented from moving.
Students took to the City of York today to protest during the voting, and are currently outside the Guild Hall where a Full Council meeting is being held. Ngwena is due to make a speech there within the hour about the bill and the impact it will have on students at all Higher Education institutions.
A prospective York student said: “this changes everything about my thoughts on going to university. I don’t think I could justify spending that amount of money, even if it is on a really good education…any university would have problems convincing me to pay that much.”
NUS President Aaron Porter, whose commitment to the cause of maintaining the current tuition fee cap was called into question today after leaked emails, stated: “”We’ve taken to the streets in our thousands, won the arguments and the battle for public opinion. We have lost in the House of Commons today only because MPs have broken their promises. We are incredibly disappointed and angry with the politicians who have let us down so badly. They have voted for a policy they know is unfair, unnecessary and wrong.”
“But this is not the end, and our protests and our work have sparked a new wave of activism which will grow stronger by the day. As they come for the education maintenance allowance, as they seek to raise interest rates on our loans and as they peddle lies about fairness we will expose their betrayal. I am incredibly proud of the student movement today and we stand ready to fight the next stage of this campaign together. Our future is at stake.”
Ed Milliband, current Labour Leader, who strongly opposed the Bill, told the BBC “This is a sad day for democracy … people will lose faith in politics.”