‘Little more than a PR stunt’: Manchester students reject Nick Clegg’s tuition fee apology

By Robbie Gill

Students unions across Manchester are rejecting Nick Clegg’s tuition fee apology, branding it a ‘PR stunt’.

As the first group of students to pay up to £9000 a year in tuition fees start their first week of studies, some have expressed feelings of anger and distrust towards the deputy prime minister.

MMU’s Student Union president Ben Aitkins has spoken out about the Lib Dems’ pre-election pledge of abolishing tuition fees.

He said: “Abolishing tuition fees has long been one of the Liberal Democrats’ main policies, and it was a huge part of their campaign to be elected.

“As a result many students and young people voted for Nick Clegg and his party in 2010 and by abandoning that policy almost immediately after being elected into Government, he has let them down.”

He continued: “Actions speak louder than words, and making meaningful amends will mean much more than an apology that currently seems to be little more than a PR stunt to win back the support that has been lost.”

Salford University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Martin Hall said that the focus now should now be on those students who will be affected by the increase.

He said: “We need to move beyond an apology and to an understanding of the unanticipated consequences of these changes for those who are now not able to achieve their aspirations and realise their potential.”

Manchester Metropolitan University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry Kelleher admitted there had been some difficulties for universities nationally, but was confident that MMU’s applications were solid.

He said: “Applications have held up well against the national trend.”

The Liberal Democrat party president Tim Farron told Sky’s Murnaghan show at the Brighton conference yesterday that they should have insisted on maintaining the pre-election pledge to scrap tuition fees.

He said: “Personally, I think we should have argued for it much harder in the coalition negotiations and we should have made sure there was a red line there.”

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