STUDENTS and academics from Huddersfield appeared on a TV current affairs show at the weekend.
The controversial topic of university tuition fees featured on BBC1's Politics Show, which was broadcast at lunchtime yesterday.
Huddersfield University Vice-Chancellor Prof John Tarrant was interviewed for the programme while students around campus were asked to give their comments.
Under Government plans, students will have to pay up to £3,000 a year in tuition fees from 2006.
That means graduates could rack up total debts of £30,000.
Prof Tarrant said: "I'm concerned about providing opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to go to university.
"I'm not a big supporter of tuition fees, but I fear they are inevitable."
He feels it is right that people who benefit from higher education should pay.
Most academics accept that taking money from general taxation to pay the whole cost of students is an unfair system, said Prof Tarrant.
"It is only socially just that graduates should be asked to make a contribution towards the cost of their higher education, because they will earn more than the average taxpayer," he said.
But he says increased tuition fees must come with provisos. The first is that there are appropriate bursaries to help students from poorer backgrounds.
Secondly, universities must be made to impose the same fee levels, to avoid a huge gap between institutions.
Prof Tarrant said: "Universities with a large number of students from poor backgrounds will probably not be able to charge high fees and will not get the extra income to invest in teaching and learning. So students from those poorer backgrounds will get less money invested in their teaching.
"Universities with relatively well-off students will be able to invest more in the student experience."
The difference in income between universities charging different fees could be tens of millions of pounds each year.
"If Huddersfield charges the high fees, we'll have to use most of the extra income to provide bursaries to encourage poor students to continue to come to us . Our net gain will be very small," said Prof Tarrant.
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