Lords backs student top-up fees…

YET more bad news for students (or more probably, their parents), with the House of Lords backing ‘top-up’ fees for students in Northern Ireland. Lord Glentoran said: “Northern Ireland should have its own right and time to make its own decisions on top-up fees.”

Conservative spokesman Lord Glentoran continued: “It is proven when a government with a majority of 200 in the Commons could only get its legislation with a majority of five, supported by Scottish MPs to whom it didn’t apply. I believe that it would be wrong of this government, it would be overbearing and arrogant for Mr Gardiner MP (Barry Gardiner, Northern Ireland Under Secretary) to say we are going to enforce this on Northern Ireland now come what may.”

All this comes after an apology from a senior MP to the people of Northern Ireland after 44 Labour MPs voted in support of tuition fees for students here. Last year, they all voted against the introduction of these fees in England.

More of this and unionists might start developing a republican streak.

(I think the debate will probably be here tomorrow. Let me know if the link needs changing later.)

  • beano

    “bad news for students (or more probably, their parents)”
    Am I the only student in the country who pays their own fees? That said, students never seem to be as poor as they make out: I remember as a fresher seeing a protest outside the SU to “end student poverty” and the first sign I saw on walking inside the SU building was “Designer Jean Sale Downstairs!”

    I’m OK, I won’t have to pay top-up fees. But despite what I said above, I’m against them. I had to work a 20 hour week on top of university last year, and that was only sufficient because I got a significant sales bonus on a regular basis. £1k is about right per year, with the way student loans are. £3k is too much.

  • Tom Griffin

    Belfast Gonzo,

    Your original post on this provoked some interest at the Campaign for an English Parliament blog
    The English are just beginning to come to terms with their own democratic deficit, whereby Scottish MPs have imposed tuition fees and foundation hospitals.
    There’s also the fact that the Health and Transport ministers are Scottish MPs whose constituents don’t use the services they run (Dr Reid should be used to this of course).
    Some of the English commentary on the ‘Scottish Raj’ is remarkably reminiscent of Brian Feeney’s fulminations against the NIO.
    I was particularly struck by some of the criticism of John Prescott’s regional devolution plan as partition

  • Davros

    How long before students realise that their antics in the Holyland show that things cannot be that bad financially as they can afford ….
    ( back in concerned of Tunbridge Wells mode again )

  • cg

    What has the holylands got to do with the disgraceful intoduction of Top-Up fees here?

  • Davros

    People who otherwise might be sympathetic to the students’ case in respect of financial hardship will be wondering how, if things are so tight, so many students can go on the beer regularly. Public relations.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Well, if my eyes are any guide (OK, they’re not up to much, but it makes for a better post), then almost every student in the Holy Land area owns a car. Why, I’m not sure, as the university is ooooooohh… maybe a whole 10 yards away. If daddy doesn’t buy his favourite high-achiever a new Clio for passing his/her A-levels, that’s the cost of top-up, tuition and many other fees for the entire degree course.

    Yes, I did turn 30 this month.

  • cg

    BG do you look at the streets of the holylands after 6 in the evening?

    The majority of students don’t own cars.


    As for beer, well there is always money for beer.

    Most alcoholics come from a working-class background where money is short.

    Are you going to call for a reduction in Social security to combat this?

  • cg


    Only 30 LOL

    I would have thought 50 😉

  • Davros

    Have you been listening to my mother? She was calling for the re-introduction of the birch this evening LOL

    It’s not necessarily what I think Chris, it’s about what the public thinks. You’ll not get as much support from the public while students shoot themselves in the foot with this sort of behaviour.
    You (students, not you personally as I know what a fine, upright and clean-living young man you are!)
    are leaving an open goal for the elements in society and especially the media who are hostile.

  • Davros

    p.s. re the drink thing and benefits – as I recall that was why how payments were made was changed.

  • beano

    As a student I have to agree. If students have money to spend in bars things can’t be that bad. I think I’d start feeling the pinch with an extra £2k a year to pay off though. Assuming that the government would decide I’m too rich to receive any more aid than my current loan, despite the fact that that’s based on my parents’ earnings and I’m more or less an independent student – but apparently paying your own way doesn’t qualify you as independent in the eyes of HMG.

    Before they piss about with top up fees they should sort out this means testing fiasco.

  • cg


    Go to a solicitor and have yourself registered as independent.

    There is more than one way to shin a cat 😉

  • Davros

    Go to a solicitor and have yourself registered as independent.

    No matter which way you turn, there’s a lawyer waiting to make a buck 😉

  • cg

    What a disgraceful comment Davros, you should be ashamed of yourself 😉

  • Davros

    Oh,Oh – do I need to seek legal advice ? 😉

  • cg

    wouldn’t that be ironic 😉

  • fair_deal

    I think I shall make this my theme of the week.

    VOLUNTARY COALITION folks, if I recall correctly the relevant Stormont committee had done some interesting work on this.

  • slug9987

    The debate on this was won in England and Wales and lost in Scotland. Scotland made the mistake. They have to use resources from other areas of spending to finance students. Wrong move.

    There is a big private benefit from higher education so the private individual should bear more of the cost. The scheme proposed allows this to happen after employment and those who benefit more pay more.

    There are limited resources available to government because tax is distortionary. Tax finance should not therefore be used if a more effective alternative exists. This initiative can allow tax to be used to improve school level education.

    The decision illustrates the benefit of not having devolution. NI politiicians don’t read up on the economic and social policy literature enough and are very populist. They would never take the lead on an issue like this in the way Labour did.

    Very importantly UU and Queens will be better resourced and the research spillovers will bring knowledge based employment to Belfast and help the local economy. University departments need to compete in a world market for the best acaademics. That requires money governments cannot afford.

    Change or see standards fall.

  • Henry94

    The point is not that those who become students can afford it but that people who can’t afford it will not become students.

  • slug9987

    “The point is not that those who become students can afford it but that people who can’t afford it will not become students.”

    Under the scheme people pay afterwards – once they are earning so this argument is not very convincing. The evidence from the GB 2004 UCAS exercise showed no deterrent effect for low income people.

  • Tom Griffin

    “The debate on this was won in England and Wales and lost in Scotland. Scotland made the mistake.”

    I’m not sure the debate was really won when a majority of MPs for England and Wales voted against the policy, but it was pushed through with the votes of Scottish MPs.
    It’s easy to take the lead on an issue when it doesn’t affect your consituents. Illustrates the benefit of not having democracy maybe.

  • Belfast Gonzo


    OK, I was being facetious about car ownership levels amongst students. However, I am in the Holy Land area every day, not just when workers line every street with their cars for the free parking, but afterwards too.

    And a helluva lot of them do own cars. Kind of makes you wonder why they walk over them on the way home from the pub…