Friday 24 June 2011, Islamic Republic News Agency
Two sixth of students have won permission from the High Court for a legal challenge to prevent the British government from allowing universities to treble tuition fees to £9,000 a year from September 2012
The legal action is brought by the 16-year-old Callum Hurley and the 17-year- old Katy Moore and following Thursday's ruling the claim now proceeds to a full hearing at which the government will be forced to defend and justify its decision to increase university fees.
Their solicitor Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) said the ruling was “a major breakthrough! and that the case “affects the next generations of students from less well off backgrounds.”
“This case challenges the government’s bare-faced agenda to make our society one based on elitism and wealth,” Shiner said in a statement obtained by IRNA.
The legal challenge is being brought on two grounds, firstly that the increase breaches Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular that it discriminates against students from poorer social origin and ethnic minorities.
The second is that the government has failed to give “due regard” to promoting equality of opportunity as is required under the country’s Race Relations, Sex Discrimination and Disability Discrimination Acts.
Hurley said he was delighted at the decision. “It is such an important issue that will affect thousands of people and hinder the chances of poorer students who want to go to university,” he said.
Moore also welcomed the ruling and said it was “vital that we stand up for our generation and fight the government's decision to almost triple university tuition fees.”
“We students are being let down by the government, as these changes to university fees will cause many bright and talented students from poorer backgrounds to be put off going to university due to the thought of thousands and thousands of pounds of debt,” she said.
“The government should be taking progressive measures to encourage more young people from state schools to go on to higher education, not making it more difficult for us to achieve the futures we want to achieve,” she added.
The increase is expected to leave student incurring debts of upwards of £40,000 by studying for a basic degree with fears that it will deter many from going to university.
OIL said that if the case is won and the court squashes the new regulation, it will leave the coalition government's tuition fees policy “in tatters.”
Shiner's colleague, Sam Jacobs said the government had “dreamt up the policy of trebling tuition fees in a matter of weeks following the October 2010 spending review.”
“It was inevitable that it would fail to meet its legal duties to properly consider equality of opportunity and provide clear justification for restricting access to education,” Jacobs said.
“Any assertion that £50,000 to £60,000 of debt does not create an access problem can only be made by someone with their head in the sand,” he said.
Last week, PIL won a High Court injunction preventing Gloucestershire County Council from planned library closures, which have also been caused by government public spending cuts and austerity measures.