Nick Clegg braves ghosts of the past with election pledge to keep tuition fees

Decision to raise university fees to a maximum £9,000 a year provoked biggest crisis as Lib Dem leader

Political Editor

Nick Clegg plans to fight the next election on a pledge to stick to the Coalition’s controversial decision to raise university tuition fees to a maximum £9,000 a year.

A Liberal Democrat policy paper, seen by The Independent, rejects calls by some of the party’s activists for fees to be cut to a maximum £6,000 a year or replaced by a graduate tax. The report by a Lib Dem working group proposes that the £9,000 limit be retained but reviewed by the next government.

The plan will be put to a vote at the Lib Dems’ annual conference in Glasgow in September, which has the final say on policy. It will be seen as a test of whether Mr Clegg can persuade the Lib Dems to take the tough decisions facing a party of government.

The Coalition’s hike in fees provoked Mr Clegg’s biggest crisis as Lib Dem leader. He signed a pledge to abolish fees at the 2010 election and the party manifesto promised to phase them out. He later apologised for his broken promise and now wants to avoid a repeat in 2015. At the same time, he will reject any Conservative proposals for the £9,000 limit to be raised or to reduce the income level at which graduates start to repay their loans from £21,000 to £18,000 a year.

A senior Lib Dem source said yesterday: “We know that we must not go into the election making unrealistic promises that we won’t be able to keep. Everyone from grassroots activists to government ministers has taken flak on this and we all emerged from that experience bruised, so we are determined not to repeat the mistake. That experience has taught us all the importance of realistic, costed policies that we can be confident could be delivered in government. That’s why we have thoroughly examined the current system and the alternatives – a graduate tax and lowering fees – and concluded that we should stick with the current system and review it once it has been given a proper chance to bed in.”

The policy paper, Learning for Life, says: “We believe there is no one alternative funding mechanism that combines both progressive support for graduates on low incomes, affordability for the state and support for those from less affluent backgrounds to participate. We therefore propose sticking with the current system, but commit to a review within the next Parliament, in particular on its impact on access, participation and quality.”

“This should consider both the pressure on the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement from unpaid loans and progress made on widening participation.”

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film
films

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Group: English as an Additional Langua...

Year 2 Primary Teacher in Bradford

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: A full time Year 2 Primary Teach...

Reception Teacher in Bradford

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Reception Primary Teacher in Bra...

NQT and Experienced Primary Teachers Urgently required

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: NQT and Experienced Primary Teac...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album