According to a legal opinion and essays
published today, the government plans to increase the tuition fees up to £9,000 a year is a violation of human rights law as it is a form of discrimination of students from poorer backgrounds. This week the parliament voted through government plans to increase tuition fees starting from 2012. As the government is going to introduce cuts to teaching, the lost income is deemed to be replaced through the fees in amount of at least £7,000.
However, it is considered that the raise of tuition fees could cause a disproportionate impact on pupils from low-income families
. The research has found that working-class students are likely to have more debts that those from privileged background.
The opinion from Rabinder Singh QC and Aileen McColgan states: "There are, in our view, concerns as to whether the proposed changes would pass muster given that the burden of proof is on the state to justify retrogressive steps. In our view, there appear to have been alternative means open to the government which might have reduced the likely disproportionate impact. In particular, it is not clear whether the likely advantages of a graduate tax or the possibility of means testing in setting fees, as regards access to university by lower-income students have been adequately taken into account."
Human rights lawyer Phil Shiner, whose firm Public Interest Lawyers released the opinion today, said: "It is blindingly obvious that using the so-called financial crisis as a guise, this government has set out to permanently change higher education to one based on elitism. It is inconceivable that students from ordinary backgrounds could afford to take on such debts."