Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Oxford students back hike in fees

students at Oxford University's Christ Church College voted in favour of plans to increase tuition fees

Oxford students have come out in support of controversial plans to hike university tuition fees, in stark contrast to the mood on campuses around the country.

While 50,000 students and lecturers joined angry protests against the increase last week, undergraduates at the university's prestigious Christ Church College voted in favour of it.

The college's junior common room held an emergency general meeting to discuss the contentious issue as members thought the college "should have a position" on it.

Law student Sebastien Fivaz, who proposed the motion last Sunday, said: "It's regrettable to raise tuition fees but I don't think we should be in a position where the Government has to plug the hole in funding."

The motion was passed when 21 students at the elite college voted in favour of raising fees while 14 voted against and four abstained. But the majority disagreed with Government plans to make swingeing cuts to university budgets.

Second year undergraduate Mr Fivaz, 19, admitted soaring fees could deter poorer pupils from going to university. But, he suggested, this could be countered by improving schemes designed to encourage such pupils to apply.

He said: "There is a risk that some people will be put off and it may be applicants from poorer backgrounds. But if we have strong access initiatives and good careers advice I think that can counteract the higher fees. At a university like Oxford, you're guaranteed to have good bursaries."

It is feared that under the plans, top universities such as Oxford and Cambridge would raise fees the full amount, to £9,000, deterring all but the richest from applying.

Christ Church, one of the largest Oxford colleges, already has a reputation for attracting large numbers of students from Eton College and other top independent schools. Famous alumni include 19th century prime minister William Gladstone, poet WH Auden, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and broadcaster David Dimbleby.

Elsewhere, union leaders say the increase in fees, coupled with cuts to university budgets, would mean the end of affordable higher education. Members of the Oxford University Student Union also added their voices to last week's protests.

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