Dr Julian Lewis: When all sorts of universities were obliged to charge the same, a student from a modest economic background had only to consider how well he or she would do in examinations and interviews in order to get a place at the best universities. Now, that potential student will have to consider how much he or she will be paying to go to a good university compared with the lesser amount required for a lesser university. Is that a step forward for meritocracy or a step backwards?
[The Minister for Universities and Science (Mr David Willetts): My hon. Friend talks about how much they will be paying, but we should remember that no student will pay up front. What will be crucial in determining their repayments is their earnings, and because we have raised the threshold, their monthly repayments, regardless of the university fee, will actually be lower under our proposed system than under the system we inherited from the Labour Government.]