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UEA students urge Norwich MP to 'keep his promise'

PUBLISHED: 16:00 03 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:03 01 July 2010

Norwich South MP Simon Wright.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright.

Steve Downes

Norwich South MP Simon Wright is being urged by the students who helped him clinch victory to “keep his promise” to vote against any rise in university tuition fees.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright is being urged by the students who helped him clinch victory to “keep his promise” to vote against any rise in university tuition fees.

The student vote at the University of East Anglia (UEA) is thought to have been instrumental in Mr Wright's 310-vote victory over Labour's Charles Clarke at last month's General Election.

Many are believed to have backed Mr Wright because he signed a pre-election pledge to vote against any increase in the fees paid by students for their courses.

Now a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government deal has left the way open to Lib Dems to abstain if the issue comes to a vote.

Former BP boss Lord Browne is leading a review of higher education fees, which from this autumn will see students paying up to £3,290 per year for their courses - repayable after they have graduated and are earning more than £15,000 a year. His recommendations, expected this summer or autumn, could include raising the current cap on tuition fees.

When asked if he would vote against any increase, Mr Wright said: “I would need to see the whole package. I don't know what Lord Browne is going to recommend, and I would rather decide how to vote when I see what is proposed.

“I can understand why students will feel concerned. It's something that we campaigned on, and if we had a Lib-Dem government we could abolish tuition fees.”

UEA student Davina Kesby said: “I will probably think twice about voting for the Liberal Democrats again. It's a massive backpedal.”

Natasha Barnes, communications officer for the Union of UEA Students, said students had turned out in their thousands, many to support Mr Wright because of his pledge.

She said: “We are now eager to work with our new MP to ensure that UEA students' opinions are not ignored and that this promise can be kept.”

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