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UK: Unions join together to fight against tuition fee increases

A coalition of EI affiliates in the UK have joined the National Union of Students (NUS) to fight against any tuition fee increases in the run up to a funding review planned for 2008. This could result in the removal of the £3,000 cap on tuition fees by 2010.

The coalition aims to highlight the negative impact of fees on increasing admissions to higher education. UCAS figures due shortly are predicted to show the first drop in university applications in eight years, despite government plans to get 50 per cent of 18-30 year olds in higher education in four years' time. Indeed, the Higher Education Funding Council for England has warned that the number of university places is growing too slowly for the government to meet its target of getting half of young people into higher education by 2010. The coalition came together at the NUS' annual reception in January 2006, hosted at the House of Commons by key top-up fees opponent Ian Gibson MP and attended by representatives from across the education sector, including EI affiliates the NATFHE, AUT, NUT, ATL and NASUWT. MPs attending the event were asked to sign up to an Early Day Motion which states that the 'removal of the cap will serve to extend the market further in our education system, and will serve to deter students from poorer and less traditional backgrounds from going to university'. The full text of the Early Day Motion reads: 'That this House welcomes the launch of the Coalition 2010 campaign fronted by the National Union of Students, National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, AUT, National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers; supports the Coalition's aim to fight against the removal of the £3,000 cap during the lead up to the Government's review of education funding beginning in 2008; questions whether the Government's pledge to widen participation in education can be reconciled with the prospect of ever-growing fees for students; believes that the removal of this cap will serve to deter students from poorer and less traditional backgrounds from going to university; and urges the Government not to increase the £3,000 cap following the review period.'