Tag Archives: david willetts

Why Lib Dems shouldn’t keep schtum about tuition fees

tuition fees vote“University tuition fee rise has not deterred poorer students from applying”. That was the headline in The Guardian this week reporting new analysis by the Independent Commission on Fees chaired by Will Hutton:

The raising of tuition fees to £9,000 has not put off students from disadvantaged backgrounds from applying to university – although the gap in applications between those from wealthy and poor backgrounds remains wide, according to new analysis. …

The commission found that university application rates for 18-year-olds in England have continued to recover from their post-rise lows, with application rates for 2014 entry – including students who will receive their A-level results on Thursday – almost two percentage points higher than in 2010.

While students who are not eligible for free school meals – available for pupils from households earning less than £16,000 – remain more than twice as likely to go to university, the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students has narrowed from 30.5% in 2010 to 29.8% in 2013.

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Your essential weekend reader — 8 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Saturday morning, so here are eight thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

Three big things I’ve got wrong since I’ve starting blogging and commenting – ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie confesses to a trio of big errors on the NHS, higher-rate tax and equalities: “One of the many reasons I don’t want to be an MP is that I think this sort of ability to think openly and reflectively is probably impossible when you are standing for office.”

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Vince Cable’s speech to LibDem conference

You can watch Vince’s speech to the Lib Dem conference here…


(Available on the BBC website here.)

Or you can read the text in full here…

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Opinion: UK riots – the mystery of the David Willetts’ rule of post-war baby boom peaks

We’ve seen and heard from dozens of pundits wheeled out over the last week to explain the riots we saw on the streets of some of England’s cities last week. But here’s an unasked question: did a Coalition minister unwittingly predict these riots with amazing precision, and in doing so offer up an explanation that has not as yet been suggested by any of the experts on our TV screens?

I am currently reading The Pinch, a book by universities minister and Conservative MP for Havant, David Willetts. It was published in hardback last year, and in paperback this …

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Will the tuition fees concessions be enough to win over Lib Dem MPs?

It’s three weeks since Vince Cable announced in the House of Commons that he, on behalf of the Coalition Government, supported the broad thrust of The Browne Report’s recommendations — in particular, that tuition fees in England should be increased.

This Lib Dem policy U-turn sparked the biggest outcry among party members of the Coalition to date, with many members regarding opposition to tuition fees as fundamental to a belief in free education and to the party’s broader identity. (See the comments threads here, here and here, for example.)

Lib Dem Voice’s survey of party members

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Tuition fees to be capped?

From The Guardian:

David Willetts said he disagreed with one of the main proposals of Lord Browne’s radical blueprint for universities, published last week.

Browne, former chief executive of BP, recommended ministers allow universities to set tuition fees – currently £3,290 a year for students in England – as high as they thought they could command.

Browne said institutions charging more than £6,000 should have to pay a rising percentage of each additional £1,000 as a levy to government. This would mean a university that charges £7,000 would receive 94% of the fee, while one charging £10,000 would receive 81%.

Speaking to vice-chancellors

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Vince: why I’m saying ‘No’ to the graduate tax

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, has tonight written to all Lib Dem members in anticipation of the publication next week of the report of the Browne Review (‘The Independent Review of Higher Education & Student Finance in the UK’ to give it its official title).

Here’s what Vince has to say:

Dear Friend,

As you know, one of the most urgent tasks facing the Coalition Government is to reform the funding of Higher Education. Our objectives are clear: high-quality university teaching and research; fair access for all, regardless of background; and a progressive funding structure.

At the same time,

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Clegg: Governing for the long term

Nick Clegg gave the following speech to the Institute for Government yesterday:

Successful governments require a number of ingredients: strong leadership, public support, dedicated ministers, and a good dose of luck, to name but a few.

But above all they need a clear sense of purpose.

When governments lose sight of their overriding purpose for being in power, the glue that holds them together dissolves. We saw this in the latter years of Labour’s time in office. A directionless government, without the underpinning of a clear purpose, inevitably ended in factionalism, intrigue and bankruptcy.

This is a mistake we will not repeat.  In my speech …

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Clegg backs graduate tax in Telegraph interview

Credit where credit is due, today’s Telegraph interview with Nick Clegg covers a range of substantive policy issues and gives the Deputy Prime Minister the space to give nuanced answers where the question requires them.

The biggest story is Clegg’s clear steer on a graduate tax as the way to square financial demands with the party’s dislike of tuition fees:

While David Willetts, the universities minister, said this week that it was for Lord Browne’s ongoing study to recommend increased tuition fees or a tax, Mr Clegg comes down firmly for the latter. “ children are very intimidated by levels of

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Kennedy urges coalition to mitigate impact of immigration cap on universities

The Press Association reports:

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has urged the Government to look at ways of “mitigating” the impact of an immigration cap on universities. Mr Kennedy, rector of Glasgow University, challenged universities minister David Willetts over the policy at question time.

“Given the Government’s policy on a cap on immigration, you will be aware Universities UK and many others right across the sector are worried about the impact this will have,” he said. “Ten per cent of university staff across the UK are non-EU nationals – 2,500 staff at the Scottish universities alone.

“What can you do with

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Opinion: Who can trust Cameron?

In June 2006 Professor John Curtice, commenting on opinion polls and shifts in the UK political environment said: “It looks as though we may have entered a new political era”. Andrew Grice, The Independent on Sunday’s Political Editor, observed that the Independent’s ‘poll of polls’ showed “David Cameron’s rejuvenated Conservative Party a seven-point lead over Labour.”

The focus of their political analysis was the impact of a recently elected Conservative Party leader on UK party politics. Here was a leader who had set out to detoxify the Tory brand, and he and his party appeared to be making significant headway.

David Cameron had, according to Andrew Grice, called on …

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Daily View 2×2: 23 December 2009

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Yesterday was a busy one on Lib Dem Blogs, though a lot quieter if you take out the posts from Lib Dem councillors and campaigners giving people information on snow, gritting and road conditions.

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

I’m going to work on the assumption that you’ve noticed the spot of bad weather we’re having and don’t need me to point it out to you.

More poor people should marry, say Tories

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What the papers say…

A look back at the last few days of news and comment in the National newspapers, by former Fleet Street News Editor (and former Editor of Liberal News), Philip Young… including a few clippings you may have missed.

Sunday Times, 6.12.09:

“A Tory peer has been caught using someone else’s home address to claim tens of thousands of pounds in expenses. Lord Taylor of Warwick, a 57-year-old former barrister, told the House of Lords that his main home was a terrace house in Oxford, which he neither owned nor lived in. Taylor has lived in his family home …

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Chamali Fernando shortlisted by Cambridge Conservatives

Former Lib Dem London Mayoral selection candidate Chamali Fernando, who defected to the Conservatives in July, will take part in an Open Primary selection in Cambridge this Saturday, 12 December.

At the General Election the winning candidate will face whoever succeeds the Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth, who is standing down to concentrate on his career as an academic. The Liberal Democrats’ selection is also currently underway.

Billed as “more than just a Cameron cutie!” you can read Chamali’s pitch on Cambridge Conservatives’ website, as well as the biographies of the other five shortlistees.

12 December UPDATE: Nick …

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