Under New Labour grants were abolished and tuition fees of £1,000 were introduced, followed shortly by top-up fees of up to £3,000.
Every year since, the minimum (£1,000) and maximum fees (£3,000) are uprated in line with inflation so that students who recently began their courses for 2008/09 will be incurring debts of somewhere between £1,255 to £3,145 in debt (with interest accumulating from day one) every year for the next three years. They will then repay this debt through an extra 9% deduction from their earnings.
This year a group of Labour MPs - who opposed tuition fees and top-up fees - have sought to stop the annual uprating for 2009/10. In the House of Commons, they have tabled a 'prayer' - which if enough MPs support will force MPs to vote on whether to increase student debt, at a time when taxpayers' money is being used to write-off dodgy bank debt.
If your MP has not already signed the prayer (EDM 2210), please lobby them to do so.
John McDonnell MP, who tabled the motion, said "As our economy unravels due to unsustainable debt, it seems obscene to be increasing the millstone around the necks of young people."
For more comment from John and more information on the prayer, see the LRC press release