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Willing to pay for quality

Spokey Wheeler, head, Wavell school, Hampshire:

"Top-up fees are a huge mistake. As a headteacher and a father I believe that education should be free and I believe a significant number of my pupils will be put off by the reality, rather than the fear, of debt. What young person wants to face the prospect of 25 years of debt ahead of them."

Peter Holding, head, Sir William Borlase's grammar, Buckinghamshire:

"My pupils will still go to university, and will still choose the universities that are best for them. They'll consider it an investment. But there has been a dramatic increase in pupils taking a gap year before university or taking part-time jobs in the sixth form, partly to save for higher education Mel Woodcock, head, North Manchester high school for boys:

"My gut reaction is to be against top-up fees, but I also appreciate that universities need extra money and they need to get it from somewhere. We have a policy of widening participation at this school but I am concerned that top-up fees might prove to be a disincentive to some of our pupils."

Philip Evans, head, Bedford school, Bedfordshire:

"At my (private) school, there is a clear understanding which universities carry most credibility for graduates. That will affect pupils' choice more than cost. We crossed a bridge when we introduced fees. I don't believe we'll stop at pound;3,000.

But, assuming pupils feel they're getting value for money, they'd be willing to pay substantial amounts for quality. It's what they do here, after all."

Trevor Averre-Beeson, head, Islington Green comprehensive, north London:

"Since the numbers of universities have expanded, access has increased.

There are more courses, such as ICT or performing arts, for youngsters in schools like mine. They won't be put off by top-up fees. They're very keen, and their parents want them to be the first generation to go to university.

As long as low-income families are supported, they should be able to get on with it."

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