The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has released this statement ahead of a student protest against cuts to university funding:
– Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman
The Government's reforms have made the university system fairer and more progressive.
Most students will not pay upfront to study; there are more generous loans, grants and bursaries for those poorer families and loans are only repaid once graduates have jobs and are earning over £21,000.
Students, like other citizens, have the right to participate in peaceful protest.
The National Union of Students has tweeted these pictures of the placards that will be used on today's student demonstration in London.
As many as 10,000 students are expected to march to highlight the need for more investment in education and employment for young people.
- Around 52,000 students marched through London in protest at plans to increase tuition fees while cutting state funding for university teaching.
- Some 200 people from the march occupied 30 Millbank – the building that houses the Conservative party's campaign headquarters – and a stand-off with police ensued.
- Fourteen people – police and activists – were injured and police arrested 153 demonstrators.
- Police in riot gear clashed with protesters, who had smashed windows and mounted the roof of the building.
- The NUS distanced itself from the violence, with its president Aaron Porter saying he "absolutely condemned" the scenes.
– Kathy Taylor, the president of the University and College Union (UCU)
This is a government that does not understand the needs and fears of ordinary people, yet claims we are all in it together.
In the first year of this coalition government, the richest 1,000 people in Britain increased their collective wealth by 18%.
Over the same period the government introduced measures which increased the number of children living in poverty by nearly one million.
The decision to scrap the education maintenance allowance (EMA) - a grant for the poorest teenagers to help them stay in school or college - has had the biggest impact, Mr Burns said.
The final outcome of the decision to raise tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 per year is "not yet known", he added.
– Roger McKenzie, assistant general secretary of Unison
Tory education policies are turning the clock back to the time when education was the preserve of the rich.
Young people, especially those from poor families, are already being put off going to university by the huge cost. The loss of the EMA has forced many others to drop out of school altogether.
Young people, faced with a tough jobs market or an education they cannot afford, are left without options.
The effects will be as expensive for our society as they will be long-lasting, but the real tragedy is for those young people robbed of a future.
The NUS has warned that the UK could be heading for an "epidemic of university dropouts", with a study showing that more than two in five had seriously considered leaving their course.
Of these, almost half of undergraduates said money worries were a key factor in considering whether to drop out.
The NUS have said young people were being left with a "sense of desperation" for their futures amid major changes to education and a tough job market.
The prospect of leaving university thousands of pounds in debt and facing a scramble for graduate jobs was a major concern, the union warned.
Mr Burns said there were strong feelings on campuses around the country about education reforms, including the move to treble tuition fees and financial support for students as well as youth unemployment.
Today's students know they are going to be "tens of thousands of pounds in debt before they even graduate and they know there's little prospect of graduate employment," he said.
"There's a sense of desperation that people have. They're slowly seeing opportunities being taken away and are powerless to do anything about it."
NUS president Liam Burns has said Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg won the trust, and votes, of young people and their parents by signing the tuition fees pledge, but had now lost them "once and for all" by breaking it.
He said: "Most parents would like to see him and every other MP who broke the pledge go before they can do any more harm to the next generation.
"As students gather in London today to demand investment in education and employment, the countdown to the next general election has already begun.
"Many MPs of all party colours kept their promise, but those MPs who broke their pledge cannot wriggle their way out. They are living out their electoral lives on borrowed time."