The Tories could raise student tuition fees again past £9,000 a year, William Hague indicates

The former Tory leader refused to rule out another rise

The Conservatives could raise tuition fees again past £9,000 a year if they return to government after the election, William Hague has indicated.

The former Tory leader, who is stepping down as an MP at this election, said the party “haven’t ruled out” a further increase.

But he criticised Labour for spreading “scare stories” over the policy and said the party would act to help universities grow.

“We haven't specified the future level of university fees but I think the scare stories put about by the Labour party are extremely misleading, they are just designed to frighten the voters before the election. We will continue to act in the interests of universities prospering and of record numbers of students going to university,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme.

"We haven't ruled [an increase] out but scare stories about what may happen to such fees are really, as I say, just designed to scare people ahead of the elections.”

Separately on the Andrew Marr Show the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg also refused to be drawn on whether he would support a fee increase, changing the subject when questioned on the matter.

Tuition fees were introduced by the Blair government at around £1,000 a year. They were trebled by the same government to £3,000 a year. In 2010 the Coalition government voted to trebled tuition fees again to £9,000.

 

The Liberal Democrats went into the election with a manifesto pledge to abolish tuition fees; each MP also individually signed a pledge organised by the National Union of Students to vote against any increase in tuition fees whether or not they were part of the government.

Ultimately most of the party’s MPs voted to treble the fees despite a provision in the Coalition agreement to allow them to abstain on the policy.

David Cameron’s head of policy alleged last week that the Lib Dem leader was actually “keen” to raise fees in coalition negotiations despite his party’s manifesto commitment.

Raising fees is not believed to have saved the Treasury any money because of additional costs of the loan system, according to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Labour has pledged to cut tuition fees to £6,000 and has previously said it would investigate long-term alternatives to funding universities.

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