TOMORROW (Tuesday) will be D-Day for students as proposals to introduce university tuition fees go before Tynwald members again for its approval.
Members will finally vote on the proposals this week, after the Student Award Regulations were postponed from the December sitting and then withdrawn from the January session.
Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK believes that this time they will be approved.
‘Discussions have taken place with a number of (Tynwald) members,’ he said. ‘It remains to be seen whether there will be a majority in Tynwald for these changes but feedback I have had so far gives me confidence that this time there will be a resolution and the fees will be approved.’
Students again plan to protest outside Tynwald tomorrow. Last month, sixth-formers spent the day there while Onchan MHK Peter Karran (LibVan) presented a petition against the changes with more than 2,000 signatures on their behalf.
At last month’s sitting Education Minister Tim Crookall MHK was forced to withdraw the proposal after concerns that members were given little time to consider the implications of two further concessions, only finalised that lunchtime.
Members were also concerned that they were having to vote on the regulations as set out in the order paper, which did not feature those concessions.
Mr Bell has reaffirmed Mr Crookall’s position that no more concessions will be offered.
He said: ‘The important thing about the proposal this month is this will be the final proposal.
‘There will be no more concessions before the Tynwald debate, and we await the outcome.’
The Chief Minister said the proposals would deliver to Government the savings it needed from the DEC. Once it is up and running, the annual saving the DEC expects would be £4.38 million.
And at the time, he said it would introduce a system that was ‘fair and balanced to ensure the vitally important education structure we have on the island is not damaged’.
Under the proposals, all students would make a universal contribution of £2,500 a year towards the cost of higher education from 2014.
This would be supported by a Treasury loan system.
The first two amendments to the scheme would defer the accrual of interest charges until graduation, and removed the requirement for parental loan guarantees.
At the January sitting, the minister made two further concessions.
All students would be able to access the £2,500 loan, regardless of their family income.
And the sliding scale for the means tested contribution would apply to families with an income above £100,000, not £80,000.