Letter No 9a by Mike Allott: back to directory

27 January 2004


Blair's pledge on top-up fees

On the issue of tuition fees much has been made of the 2001 Labour Party manifesto and the pledge: "We will not introduce top-up fees and have legislated to prevent them".

This refers to section 26 of the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 which prohibits universities arbitrarily demanding extra fees from students over and above the grant allocated by government.

However the term "top up fees" has since taken on a much broader meaning following the publication in January 2003 of the White Paper on Higher Education. Increasingly it has been used to describe the new proposals on variable fees, defined in the White Paper as a "graduate contribution scheme".

The original top-up fees and the current graduate contribution scheme are as different as chalk and cheese.

Michael Allott
Eastleigh, Hampshire