CBI calls for higher tuition fees

By Liz Stephens

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called today for students to pay more towards the cost of university, including increased tuition fees and higher student loan interest rates.

The CBI also called for cuts to grants and said the savings were necessary to tackle the funding crisis in the higher education sector which it said had been thrown into turmoil by the increase in young people going to university.

CBI director general Richard Lambert said: “Savings should come from the student support system”.

The proposals were welcomed by the 1994 Group of research universities.

1994 Group executive director Paul Marshall said: “The fees cap needs to be high enough to bring in sufficient funding and enhance competition to further drive up quality.

“In addition, a sensible interest rate should be introduced on student loans, set at the current government cost of borrowing, to rectify the huge subsidy that the government currently pays.”

The proposals were also welcomed by the Tories, whose university spokesman David Willetts said they were “a good opportunity to bring this whole issue back to life”.

However, the proposals were attacked by the National Union of Students (NUS), who launched a salvo against the “fat cats at the CBI”.

NUS president Wes Streeting said: “I think these people are living on a different planet.

“At a time of economic crisis, when many hard-working families are struggling to support their offspring through university, I am astonished that the CBI should be making such offensive recommendations,” he said.

The proposals were also called “arrogant and elitist” by The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL)

The government will be reviewing higher education funding this autumn, however it is believed that they will leave any final decisions on tuition fees until after the general election.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg faced stiff opposition on the weekend after he refused to categorically stand behind abolishing tuition fees in the future – previously a key Lib Dem education policy.

Mr Clegg was accused of “weasel words” by delegates at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth.