We all know that the [Browne] review is merely a suggestion for how the government should approach this situation. Yet the fact that Nick and Vince seem to be jumping on the Browne bandwagon leads me to expect the worst. It would seem that they need reminding of the slogan we fought with during this year’s General Election – building a fairer Britain. This is why a group of us have got together to write an open letter to our MPs urging them to honour their pledge to fight higher fees. An abstention is NOT a no.
Here is Charles Kennedy’s reply in full (reproduced with permission):
Dear Ms Bertrand,
Thank you for your communication regarding the Browne Report and the issue of university tuition fees.
There are long-established reasons as to why I find it impossible to join in both with the direction and thrust of the Coalition’s approach to tuition fees. As well as the NUS pledge which I signed at the last general election, personally I find it impossible to reconcile what would be a change of stance on my own part and a departure from the approach which I set out as UK party leader in the previous elections of 2001 and 2005.
Accordingly, I shall be voting against the Coalition’s proposals on university tuition fees.
In doing so I cast no aspersions whatsoever on the conclusions arrived at by any others. These are testing decisions being taken against an extremely difficult economic backdrop; it is incumbent upon us all to recognise the sincerity of the motives among those who arrive at a different outcome.
Obviously, this policy relates to England – but I am concerned greatly by the potential impact upon the Scottish tertiary sector as well. (I am mindful here of my role as Rector of the University of Glasgow). I will continue to urge Westminster government ministers to cooperate closely with their Scottish counterparts to help ensure that across the UK as a whole we maintain a level playing field in terms of educational opportunity and research capacity.
There remains much more to be discussed, debated and decided as these matters proceed. Rest assured that I shall continue to work constructively in the best interests of university students – present and future – as events continue to unfold.
Thank you for taking the time and trouble to make contact.