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'They had a free university education themselves'

Sixth-formers and student leaders were celebrating this week after the Welsh Assembly voted against top-up fees - before a pound;190,000 government-backed review of university funding had even been published.

Student representatives hailed Tuesday's historic 30-29 vote as a "great day for Welsh education". Opposition parties, with the help of ex-Labour Assembly member Peter Law, supported a motion instructing ministers not to introduce top-up fees. Universities in England will be able to charge up to pound;3,000 a year from 2006.

Tim Palmer, a spokesperson for the National Union of Students, which had originally opposed the Conservative-led motion, said: "We have fought against top-up fees from day one."

Welsh sixth-formers are also happy, telling TES Cymru it was always wrong to expect undergraduates to pay more for their courses.

Mark Hughes, 18, from St Cyres comprehensive, Penarth, is planning to study law. He said: "This is a good thing. Students today have been cheated out of a free education by people who had it free themselves."

Will Ashton-Smith, 17, from Chepstow comprehensive, said: "My parents can afford to send me to university, but other students might be deterred."

Madeleine Young, 16, another Chepstow student, said: "I am considering not going to university because of the cost. It should be free for those who can't afford it."

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