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10th March 2014

Exeter students agree tuition fees may have to rise

‘This House Believes Tuition Fees Should Not Increase’ was defeated by student audience in a university debate

Exeter University’s vice-chancellor announced “tuition fees may have to rise again”, in a debate held by Exeter University’s debating society last Tuesday.

Sir Steve Smith went head-to-head with Toni Pearce, president of National Union of Students in a debate over contentious student issues; including tuition fees and the recent privatisation of the student loan book.

Smith managed to convince the student audience to vote in favour of the view that tuition fees would eventually need to increase.

In 2010, the coalition government was met with overwhelming student protests throughout the country after the motion to triple existing tuition fees from £3,000 to up to £9,000 was passed.

Yet despite an initial overwhelming response in favour of ‘This House Believes Tuition Fees Should Not Increase’, the debate at Exeter resulted in the motion’s defeat.

The vice-chancellor defended his position by pointing to the need for increased funding, and suggested his main priority was to increase the standards of the University.

He then proceeded to reveal, ‘My personal preference would be for income tax to pay for university fees [but] it is unrealistic to hope for the public to pay.’

NUS president Toni Pearce spoke against Sir Steve, drawing some of her argument from the recent Parliamentary report in which it was revealed the government was underestimating the future debt of unpaid student loans.

Pearce highlighted fears that students will have to pay more due to the potentially crippling value of outstanding loans, which in the report is estimated to increase from £46 billion in 2013 to £200 billion by 2042.

An article in The Independent explained how students within Exeter’s society are advised to vote ‘on the merits of the arguments they have heard’, which may explain the debate’s outcome.

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