Video: Clegg fails to unite party behind rise in tuition fees

LIBERAL Democrat leader Nick Clegg confirmed last night that he would vote in favour of tuition fee rises after accepting defeat in his attempts to unite the party on the issue.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP said he had hoped Lib Dem MPs could "walk through the fire" together by collectively abstaining in the key ballot on Thursday, but now realised that was not possible.

However he announced that all Lib Dem Ministers would be supporting the Government's proposals – which could see the fees students pay almost trebling to 9,000 a year.

In opposition the party had campaigned for fees to be abolished and pledged to oppose any increase. A significant number of the party's 57 MPs are expected to vote against the increase.

A survey revealed that at least 13 Lib Dems were planning to vote against any increase. Tory MP for Haltemprice and Howden David Davis has also said he will vote against the Government.

The controversy surrounding the tuition fees vote comes as a lecturers union claimed the Government's planned funding cuts to higher education would cost the Yorkshire economy 550m.

The plan to increase tuition fees is coinciding with massive cuts to university teaching budgets which will leave higher education providers reliant on larger income from fees to make up the difference.

The University and College Union claim that these planned cuts will see Yorkshire universities losing 284m in core funding and leave six higher education providers at some form of risk.

The report published today claims Leeds Metropolitan, Huddersfield and Sheffield Hallam would be at "high-medium" risk as a result of the proposals to cut teaching budgets to the majority of degree subjects while Leeds Trinity University College, Leeds College of Music and York St John University are at a "high risk" of serious impact from the Government's plans.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "In reality, more than one in three of England's universities could find themselves in real trouble once the landscape of higher education changes and funding cuts bite." Student protests are set to continue in the run up to the vote on Thursday although an occupation at a Leeds University building could end today.

The university has told protesters who have occupied the Michael Sadler building for almost a fortnight that they will be regarded as trespassers from 8am.