As Ed Miliband once again puts Education to the top of the election agenda, we were lucky enough to welcome the former Minister for Universities and Science to the JS Mills Society for a stimulating and informative discussion.
In 2010, Mr Willetts told the BBC that the tuition fee rise was "good for students" and again spoke unequivocally on Thursday. He outlined that the increase in fees to £9000 maximum was intended to provide students with a higher level of teaching and facilities. Additionally, it stimulates competition between universities without the presence of extortionate 'free-market' prices. Whilst the cost could be regarded as relatively steep, Mr Willetts placed weight on the fact that this charge is not paid outright when you're 18. Student loans are paid over time, when and at what level you can afford.
In response to questioning from the floor, Mr Willetts referenced some of the challenges of political decision making and the trade-off that sometimes has to be made between personal and party beliefs. Whilst he voiced his approval of elements of the American and IB education system - whereby students do not specialise until their college years – the collective view of Government policy makers is still in support of the A Level system.
We thank Mr Willetts profusely for joining us and speaking on the contentious matter of tuition fees!