Northampton MP blasts government tuition fee rise as ‘unsustainable’

MP Brian Binley believes the tax payer could foot the bill for the government's tuition fee hike
MP Brian Binley believes the tax payer could foot the bill for the government's tuition fee hike

University education is becoming ‘unsustainable’ according to Northampton South MP Brian Binley, who says his party’s decision to raise the cost of tuition fees is leaving a Treasury ‘black hole’.

Speaking during a debate in the House of Commons in the Business, Innovation & Skills’ Select Committee, Mr Binley said the government’s decision to treble the tuition fee threshold will lead to the taxpayer footing the bill for unpaid student loans.

Figures released by the government last March suggested 45 per cent of university graduates would not earn enough to repay their student loans in full.

If the figure reaches 48.6 per cent, experts calculate the government will lose more money than it gained by increasing fees in England to £9,000 a year.

Mr Binley said: “Looking at the reforms from a more detached perspective, it is far from clear that the Government can claim these changes were a total success.

“We could face a situation in which the effect of trebling the tuition fees has resulted in a more expensive settlement for taxpayers.

“As I have said, no business could sustain, and no Government should be prepared to sustain, such a situation. It is the worst kind of financial thinking about the future and I reject it, not only as a businessman, but as a parent.”

In coming up with potential solutions, backbencher Mr Binley suggested universities needed to increase ‘productivity’, by reducing the length of certain courses.

He said: “We could have two courses of two years, or even 18 months if we are talking about golf course management.

“As a businessman, I despair at some of the degrees that come before me when people seek jobs.”

He concluded by calling on the Treasury to “improve contingency planning” to reduce the impact.