February 10, 2011 1:07 PM

Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, has today welcomed an announcement on plans to force Universities to give fair access to poorer students.

Jenny, who resigned as a junior member of the Government to vote against the rise in tuition fees, said that the new mechanisms will mean that any university wanting to charge over the £6000 basic fee would have to prove that they were recruiting more students from state schools and underrepresented groups.

The plans also create a new National Scholarship fund which means that the very poorest students receive at least one year's free tuition. The Government will invest £50 million in the new programme this year, rising to £150 million by 2014.

Commenting Jenny said:

"I voted against increasing tuition fees because I was worried about the amount of debt it would mean for students. The plans announced today are a step towards reducing this debt for the poorest students.

"Unlike when Labour introduced Top-up Fees, it will no longer be up to Universities to decide whether to charge the maximum fee or not. Instead they will have to prove to an independent body on fair access that they are doing far more to include people less likely to go to university because of their background.

"Whilst I still think the maximum level fee of £9000 is too much, I am pleased that any university wanting to charge this amounts will only be able to do so with strings attached.

"I believe that a university education should be available to all and so I will support anything which makes this a reality."

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