Clegg vows to keep £9,000 university tuition fees

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg intends to go into the general election with an explicit pledge to keep annual university tuition fees of £9,000.

Liberal Democrats will be asked to back the plans to retain the controversial fees in September, a move which would allow it to become a manifesto promise.

The fallout of the row over tuition fees has hung over the party since it fought the 2010 election opposing increases before swiftly agreeing to introduce significantly higher costs. Mr Clegg later apologised for breaking the pledge in a video that was quickly spoofed.

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Last month, he told party members that the 2015 manifesto will make a clear distinction between “commitments” and “ambitions” and will also spell out the party’s red lines for any coalition negotiations.

Policy papers have been drawn up by the Lib Dem higher education working group, led by Baroness Sal Brinton, which dismiss calls to reduce the fees to £6,000 or replace them with a graduate tax.

It recommends retaining the £9,000 limit with a new government then reviewing the policy. Party sources said that work would focus on how effective the policy had been.

A senior Lib Dem source told The Independent: “We know that we must not go into the next election making unrealistic promises that we won’t be able to keep.

“Everyone from grass-roots activists to Government ministers has taken flak on this and we all emerged from that experience bruised, so we are determined not to repeat the mistake.”