Tories act to quell row over university places
Wednesday 11 May 2011
The Prime Minister was forced to deny yesterday that the Government had any plans to allow wealthy students to buy places at the country's most elite universities, following a proposal floated by the Universities minister.
David Willetts had said that universities could offer "off-quota" places, charging British students at the same (higher) rate as overseas students to provide extra places.
Mr Willetts subsequently failed to kill off the idea in a follow-up interview with the BBC's Today programme yesterday morning. With the chorus of disapproval and disbelief growing, David Cameron was forced to wade into the argument himself just hours later to declare: "There is no question of people being able to buy their way into university."
Mr Willetts also issued a belated statement saying that the places would be paid for by "charitable donors and employers endowing additional places on a needs-blind basis". He added: "Access to a university must be based on ability to learn not ability to pay."
It was initially suggested that fees of up to £28,000 a year could be charged for students taking up the places, with the cash raised going towards providing extra places at the universities. Those who took them up would not be entitled to student loans or help with accommodation.
This sparked an outcry from lecturers' leaders and opposition MPs with Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, saying it was a return to the days when "breeding not brains" dictated whether an individual obtained a university place.
Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said: "The Government is yet again tossing out a poorly conceived policy idea in an attempt to disguise the chaos it has created in university funding and the shortfall in finances that has created."
Cambridge University added that it had no plans to increase university places as a result of the suggestion.
Mr Willetts said he hoped to consult on his proposals after publishing a White Paper on higher education next month.
Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
How China's richest man Li Hejun lost $15bn in an hour - and made a fortune
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?
Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...