Letter: Dangerous implications of the Dearing report

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is ironic that you should use a picture of Julie Walters' student character in Educating Rita to make your point that "loans for fees would leave poorer students, like the character she plays, with larger debts than her better-off counterparts" ("Goodbye to all that: our free universities are history", 24 July).

As an Open University student, she would be classed as being ineligible for any mandatory grant under the present system, never mind the new. The best an Open University student can hope for is a discretionary grant from his or her local education authority. With tuition fees currently in the region of pounds 350 pa (plus summer schools at around pounds 200), and six full course passes needed for a degree, the Open University is in danger of becoming inaccessible to those on lower incomes who might best stand to better themselves by gaining qualifications there.

STEVE BULL

Bournemouth

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