Callum and Katy, the teenagers taking Government to court over tuition fees

Sixth-formers claim rise in fees breaches right to education protected by Human Rights Act
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The Independent Online

Two teenagers will take on the Government in the High Court today in a bid to have the rise in tuition fees deemed unlawful.

If successful, the case would cause embarrassment for the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who introduced the rise, and for the Government, which would have to scrap the increase and devise a new plan for funding.

Sixth-formers Callum Hurley and Katy Moore, both 17, will argue the rise will cause student debts of up to £50,000, leaving university education unattainable for many – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

During the two-day trial in London, lawyers are expected to argue the decision to raise fees was a political choice which breaches the right to education protected by the Human Rights Act.

They will also claim the Government failed to consider evidence of the adverse impact that fees will have on those from more deprived socioeconomic backgrounds.

Callum, a student at Peterborough Regional College, said: "I always wanted to go to university and the rise in fees made me seriously consider whether I can go and the rise is going to impact poorer people in society. I wanted to do this to help the poorer in society. Is it worth being in £40,000-to-£50,000 worth of debt well into my adult life?"

Katy, a student at Lambeth Academy in south London, said she wanted to raise the issue after seeing students' anger during demonstrations last year. She said: "I believe it is important to try and challenge the decision and not let the Government get away with making changes that favour the rich and disadvantage those from poorer backgrounds.

"Even if we don't win the case I still think it's important to try and stand up for what you believe is right."

A spokesman for Public Interest Lawyers, which is representing the pair, said: "The European Court of Human Rights had previously indicated that where a state sets up higher-education institutions, the right of access must be 'effective' and not theoretical or illusory."

Granting the pair a trial in June, Mr Justice Collins said it was "arguable" that "there has been insufficient regard paid to the question of participation and to the likelihood that fewer low-income potential students will want to take the financial risk."