Sugar's right-hand man tells students fees rise is an 'outrage'

The decision to raise tuition fees to up to £9,000 a year is an "absolute outrage", Lord Alan Sugar's right-hand man on The Apprentice has told students.

Nick Hewer, the peer's trusted adviser on the BBC show, warned that the policy would lead to thousands of students from poorer backgrounds "shying away" from higher education.

The former PR executive, who was persuaded out of retirement by Lord Sugar to take part in the show, was addressing students from Kingston University.

"It's an absolute outrage because education is a right," he said in response to a question. "This measure will mean students from poorer backgrounds will shy away from higher education, to their and their country's detriment. And it's very disappointing because some things the Coalition has done have been quite brave."

Mr Hewer told The Independent: "That particular university doesn't have that affluent a catchment area. You could see from the audience that they were not all well-to-do. It's terrible. Education, in my view, is a right and to price particular kids who can't afford it out of the market is wrong."

Ministers have tried to defend their proposals – under which fees would rise from £3,300 to between £6,000 and £9,000 – by stressing there will be no up-front payments and that nobody will have to repay their fees until they are earning at least £21,000 a year.

However, Mr Hewer said: "A lot of families can't cope with the concept of owing £20,000 because they weren't brought up in that atmosphere, with nice middle-class parents shelling out £25,000 a year in fees for private schools." He added: "If you lose a proportion of bright poor kids from higher education, then it's the country's loss."

Mr Hewer was addressing about 300 students from the university's business and law faculty, invited because of their roles as student mentors or leaders of university clubs and societies. Many were the first generation of their family to go to university.

Mr Hewer also criticised law firms which only employed graduates from more traditional universities. "The reason why they only employ graduates with Oxbridge firsts is because they probably got Oxbridge firsts themselves," he said.

"What I'd encourage you to do is join another firm and prove yourself there," he told the students. "Then when you do join one of the big names, make sure you open it up to people from other backgrounds."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

AER Teachers: Early Years Teaching Assistant Newham

Negotiable: AER Teachers: Outstanding East London primary school seeking an Ea...

AER Teachers: Southwark primary School looking for teaching assistants

Negotiable: AER Teachers: Southwark primary School looking for teaching assist...

Royal College of Music: Assistant to the Deputy Director & the Director of Research

£24,451 - £27,061 per annum: Royal College of Music: The Royal College of Musi...

Guru Careers: Marketing Analyst / Optimisation Analyst

£35 - £45k DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Optimisation Analyst is...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory