Tuition fees overhaul could be a ‘tragedy’, says Redbridge College patron

A top celebrity scientist says new tuition fees could be a “tragedy” if the government fails to explain how they work.

The comments came after the astronomer and television presenter, who is patron of the college in Barley Lane, Little Heath, presented a string of awards to the institution’s high flyers, showing them his favourite images of the solar system.

Prof Brian Cox said: “Every year I come here, the college has got better and better and it’s incredible what the students are achieving. For the student, getting an award is not only inspiring for them but their friends and family too.

“It would be a tragedy if the students were put off from continuing their education because of finances. The government has to encourage them and inform them that the fees are not upfront and can be paid back.”

The award winners were each nominated by their tutors for their efforts and successes in their chosen studies.

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The evening finished with Maria Das Neves Da Gloria, from Dagenham, being announced as Redbridge College Student of the Year.

The 35-year-old, who is studying travel and tourism, said: “I was so surprised when I heard I’d won. It was very difficult juggling everything with being a single mum and working and studying but I’m really looking forward to the future.”

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Also present at the awards ceremony was 86-year-old Jack Petchey.

The businessman set up the Jack Petchey Foundation in Ilford in 1999 and gives grants to programmes and projects that benefit young people.

Last week he received a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

Each month, four students are recognised for their efforts at the college and receive a Jack Petchey award and �200 to spend on anything that will benefit their time at college.

Mr Petchey said: “I really enjoyed the Student Awards. I’ve always wanted to walk on the moon and I felt I have tonight,”

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