University education is ‘still worthwhile’ despite higher fees

As the Government and police face difficult questions following yesterday’s violent protests over tuition fees, one Christian leader is urging young people not to be put off pursuing a university education.

R David Muir, former director of public affairs at the Evangelical Alliance and founder of Faith in Britain, said it was unfortunate that young people’s aspirations had been “dashed” because of the prospect of accumulating substantial debt over many years at university.

The Coalition won a narrow victory in the House of Commons yesterday with its controversial plans to raise the cap on tuition fees to £6,000 a year and in some cases £9,000.

Mr Muir said: “The political economy of education has changed drastically as a result of the current economic crisis and as a consequence of that there will inevitably be adjustments to how higher education is funded.

“It is unfortunate that young people today have had their aspirations dashed because of the burden of future debt, even if one assumes that being a graduate will enable you to earn more later on.

“People like myself were fortunate enough to have our education paid for and it is a shame that young people today cannot have that same privilege.

"In spite of the current economic crisis, a university education is still worthwhile both for young people and society in general and everything should be done for young people to go to university without being saddled with debt."

The vote last night sparked ugly scenes of protest across central London, in which fringe elements took to vandalising government buildings and desecrating numerous landmarks including the Cenotaph, one of the most important monuments to Britain's war dead, and a statue of statesman Winston Churchill.

An attack on the car carrying the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall has left police with tough questions to answer as to how protestors were able to come within inches of harming the heir to the throne.

Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said there would be a full inquiry into the police’s handling of the riots and the royal security breach.

Mr Muir added: “It is unfortunate that small elements of those protesting resorted to violence and that Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were caught up in it. An inquiry has been launched and we will need to see what comes out of that.”

Yesterday, the Student Christian Movement said that raising fees would deter students from poorer backgrounds and "promote privilege over fairness".

It is calling on the Government to impose tight restrictions on universities that charge higher fees and force them to introduce measures that will enable people from poorer backgrounds to attend.

SCM member and student at the University of Birmingham, Charlotte Thompson, said: "The Government should be breaking down barriers to education, not putting up new ones.

"Faced with the prospect of thousands of pounds of debt, graduates will be forced to look for well paid jobs, rather than using their education and skills to help others."