A call for student fees to be abolished was made by Sir Patrick Stewart in Huddersfield today.
“Free education up to graduation should be the norm. I was out of the country when tuition fees were introduced, and I was horrified to think that one of the staples of society in the UK had been undermined,” he said.
Mirfield-born Sir Patrick said that when he was accepted into Bristol Theatre School, "my family could not afford to send me”.
"But I learned that there were grants on offer from the then West Riding County Council, and it was suggested that I apply. So I did,” he said.
“I had to sit in front of a panel of county councillors. To say they questioned me wasn’t anywhere near the truth. It was more like an interrogation.
“One of the said ‘Sithe Patrick, how would we benefit out of this.”
A Patrick replied: “Oh, it’s my intention that I return to the West Riding to bring back here everything I have learned in Bristol.”
His grant application was accepted and he was also awarded a scholarship, which had only ever before been given to Oxbridge students. “I was the first Secondary Modern boy to receive it,” he said.
Sir Patrick added: “I am profoundly dismayed that students today are not being given the chances I was given.”
He said when he was invited to be Chancellor at the university, he saw he had the chance to take care of the promises he had made to West Riding’s county councillors as a boy, and he was also given a chance to return to his home community.” “Thanks to the university I have spent a lot time in Huddersfield and Mirfield over the last 12 years.