Nick Clegg’s refusal to apologise about tuition fees has angered Kingston students.
Ollie Gillman and Manon Ibrahim
Kingston students have hit out at Nick Clegg’s refusal to personally apologise for tripling tuition fees.
A River reporter asked the Deputy Prime Minister if he would like to say sorry to first-year Kingston students after upping their fees to up to £9,000 a year – despite promising before the last election not to raise tuition costs.
His answer was “no”, as stretched out a dismissive arm to our reporter and walked off, apparently annoyed.
KU Labour society disappionted by comment
KU Labour society member, Josh Gutierrez, said: “It’s very disappointing that Nick Clegg refused to apologise to Kingston students, especially those who voted for his party with the promise of protection from rising tuition fees.
“It is easy to see why so many feel apathetic towards politics when we are constantly let down by politicians such as Clegg.”
Tuition fees are set to rise
Kingston University fees are currently £8,500, with international students paying up to £12,000.
President of the Conservative society, Luke Hilton, argued that the fee rise was justified, as graduates do not begin repayments until they are earning £21,000 a year.
He said: “Yes, that means you will be in debt longer, but the idea is that, as you advance your career, you make more money and you can pay it back quicker.”
Nick Clegg at Lib Dem conference
Clegg, who was at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in Brighton, had been talking to members of the party in an exhibition room and seemed willing to talk when first approached by The River.
Our reporter asked: “Would you like to apologise for tripling fees for all new Kingston University students?” He did not.
An hour later, Clegg refused to apologise again, only saying “students will be paying less”.
The Deputy PM also refused to apologise for being rude.
Steve Webb, Lib Dem minister and another who broke the tuition fee promise, said at the conference: “Nick said sorry for tuition fees before. I’m not going to comment on what I haven’t seen, but we never mean to appear rude to anyone.”
Nick Clegg said sorry last year
The Lib Dem leader said sorry in September last year through an online video, not for raising fees and consigning students to astronomical debt, but for making a pre-election promise he could not keep.
The video was then turned into a song, which received over two million YouTube hits and rose to number 143 in the UK charts. All proceeds went to Sheffield Children’s NHS Trust.
When asked about the broken pledge on fees at the conference, Clegg said: “I musically made an apology relating to the tuition fees. It’s time to start shouting about things we’re proud of.”
Kingston and Surbiton MP Ed Davey apologised to KU students in 2012 for going back on his pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees.
At the time, Davey said: “Nick Clegg apologised on behalf of the whole Liberal Democrat party, I’m certainly not going to renege on that apology.”
Clegg’s blunder could not have come at a worse time for the party.
Chris Huhne was jailed last week
Ex-Lib Dem cabinet minister Chris Huhne was jailed for eight months recently for perverting the course of justice, by getting his former wife to take speeding points for him.
Lib Dem peer Lord Rennard faces allegations of sexual harassment to towards female members of the crisis-torn party.
Lord Rennard denies the claims.