Ahead of fresh protests planned for today, Nick Clegg has urged students to see the “true picture” on plans to hike tuition fees.
The deputy prime minister said it was “crucial” to realise that there would be no upfront fees and repayments would only begin at £21,000, claiming lower income graduates would be better off than they are.
Mr Clegg also pointed out that under the new plans to raise the repayment threshold from £15,000 to £21,000 – and lower interest rates for low earners – someone whose salary started at £21,000 and increased to £27,000 after 20 years would pay an average of £7 a month. In contrast, the present system means they have to pay £45 a month.
Liberal Democrat MPs have been under fierce pressure to stick to “unconditional” Lib Dem pre-election pledges to vote against tuition fee rises, with yesterday more than 100 Lib Dem parliamentary candidates urging Mr Clegg to oppose the plans. Deputy Lib Dem leader Simon Hughes is also reportedly pressing for abstention by all 57 Lib Dem MPs when the vote is taken on the issue before Christmas.
The proposals will be debated over the next couple of weeks, starting today with an opposition-led debate.