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Vote a disaster for young: Miliband

The vote to approve higher tuition fees is a "disaster for young people and families up and down the country", Ed Miliband said.

The Labour leader added that it is also a "disastrous day" for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, saying: "Clegg and his fellow Lib Dems who have supported this proposal have destroyed their party's claim to stand for fairness and opportunity for many years to come.

"At the same time, Nick Clegg's authority has been completely undermined by this result. Under half of Liberal Democrat MPs supported this reform, contrary to what Clegg's spin doctors were briefing earlier in the day.

"His ability to lead his party after just six months of coalition looks in dire straits."

Union leaders also condemned the increase, saying there would be "no winners" from the decision to treble fees.

Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said the union had won over public opinion, and accused Lib Dem MPs of breaking their promises.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), said: "Allowing fees to rise to £9,000 paves the way for the Government to brutally slash universities' teaching budgets. There will be no winners if we transfer the responsibility and cost for higher education from state to student."

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said it was a "dark day" for the future of higher education, and warned that the hike in fees amounts to "nothing less than a Government assault on our young people - and an attack on the principles of universal education".

But professor Steve Smith, president of vice-chancellors' group Universities UK, said the hike is necessary.

He said: "The passing of this vote marks a turning point in the funding of universities in England. "No-one takes any pleasure in asking graduates to take on more debt. But the cuts to the higher education budget are a reality and we must make sure that our universities are properly funded to deliver the high standards that students rightly demand, without cutting back on places."


From Belfast Telegraph