Archbishop says tuition fees increase is 'tax on aspiration'

THE Archbishop of York has waded into the row over the proposed rise in tuition fees, describing it as a "tax on aspiration" that may serve to deter those from poorer backgrounds from going to university.

Dr John Sentamu, writing in a national newspaper yesterday, warned that widening participation in higher education was effective in helping to break links between youth under-achievement and crime and it was important to consider how "the disadvantaged may be afforded due dignity, respect and equality of opportunity for advancement and achievement".

And he questioned why universities in England should be subject to the increase when those in Wales and Scotland will not, following decisions by their devolved governments.

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"We need a society that valued every individual equally, whether they live in Glasgow, Glamorgan or Gateshead.

"We especially need to ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds are not discouraged or prevented from attending university by the cost. It seems that we are creating a system in which some of the poorest will be left behind."

The Archbishop also expressed sympathy with the rising anger felt by students over the increase in fees to a possible 9,000 a year but warned there could never be a place for violence.

"People must debate in a way that allows both sides to get their point across," he said.

"There is never any excuse for violence. We must not allow a minority on the streets to distract from the majority of voices campaigning peacefully around the country."

And in a direct address to the coalition Government, he concludes: "It is not enough to be concerned with the financial health of the nation. We can't argue for temperance and then run a liquor stall. Similarly, tackling national debt should not put students in higher education into debt. Human dignity demands that justice is at the heart of governance."

His calls came as police in London said they were seeking to identify 13 people captured on CCTV during students protests in the capital.

Thousands of demonstrators took the streets of the capital between November 10 and December 9.

Six images were released of people involved in the November 24 demonstration, and there are seven pictures of protesters in Parliament Square on December 9.

Officers also reissued images of 11 people they wish to speak to in connection with the disorder on November 10.

A spokesman said: "The Metropolitan Police launched a major criminal investigation into the student disorder seen across London between 10 November and 9 December." Anyone who knows these people is asked to contact the Operation Malone team on 020-8358 0100 or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.