MPs defied furious students and academics to back a massive increase in student tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year.
Liberal Democrats John Hemming (Birmingham Yardley) and Lorely Burt (Solhull) both broke a pre-election promise to vote against any fee increase.
Mr Hemming, who argues that the Government’s proposed reforms create a new and fairer funding system, voted in favour, while Ms Burt abstained.
Proposals to increase the maximum fee to £9,000 a year were approved by MPs as protestors battled police outside Parliament.
One officer suffered a serious neck injury and a second was treated for leg injuries, as thousands of demonstrators laid siege to the Houses of Parliament in the run-up to the vote.
Academics also joined opposition to the fees hike as 80 staff from the University of Birmingham, Aston University and Birmingham City University signed an open letter warning that the policy would damage attempts to improve skills in the West Midlands workforce.
They said: “For Birmingham, this is disastrous”.
But a Commons motion increasing the maximum universities can charge from a current limit of £3,290 was approved in the House of Commons by 323 in favour to 302 against, a Government majority of 21.
It follows the Government’s decision to cut university funding from £7.1 billion to £4.2 billion, a reduction of 40 per cent.
Both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives were hit by rebellions as MPs refused to back their leaders in supporting the fee increase.
A total of 21 Lib Dem MPs voted against the Government on the issue, but high-profile Lib Dem Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, told MPs he was “proud” of the package he was putting forward.
He said “We could have made a decision to drastically cut the number of university students, we could have cut student maintenance, we could have cut the funding to universities without replacing it.
“But instead we have opted for a set of policies that provides a strong base for university funding, which makes a major contribution to reducing the deficit and introducing a significantly more progressive system of graduate payments than we inherited.”
The vote followed weeks of dramatic debate and protests.
Britain’s top universities, represented by the Russell Group, have backed the fee proposals. They include the University of Birmingham, where Vice-Chancellor David Eastwood said: “A cap of £9,000 is the minimum required for leading universities to compete in the global higher education market.”
But his comments prompted a student occupation of his office, where protestors demanded his resignation.
Lib Dem MP John Hemming was also targeted, and his Coventry Road office was occupied by protesters. He responded by claiming the occupation simply made him more likely to back the fees increase
How they voted:
Dan Byles (Con Warwickshire North)
Bill Cash (Con Stone)
Michael Fabricant (Con Lichfield)
Mark Garnier (Con Wyre Forest)
Andrew Griffiths (Con Burton & Uttoxeter)
John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley)
Margot James (Con Stourbridge)
Sajid Javid (Con Bromsgrove)
Marcus Jones (Con Nuneaton)
Daniel Kawczynski (Con Shrewsbury & Atcham)
Chris Kelly (Con Dudley North)
Jeremy Lefroy (Con Stafford)
Peter Luff (Con Mid Worcestershire)
Karen Lumley (Con Redditch)
Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield)
James Morris (Con Halesowen & Rowley Regis)
Mark Pawsey (Con Rugby)
Mark Pritchard (Con The Wrekin)
Richard Shepherd (Con Aldrige Brownhills)
Caroline Spelman (Con Meriden)
Robin Walker (Con Worcester)
Chris White (Con Warwick and Leamington)
Nadhim Zahawi (Con Stratford)
Philip Dunne (Con Ludlow) was a teller for the Government, which means he did not vote but did support the Government’s position.
Lorely Burt (Lib Dem Solihull)
Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North)
Adrian Bailey (Lab West Bromwich West)
Richard Burden (Lab Northfield)
Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill)
Jack Dromey (Lab Erdington)
Paul Farrelly (Lab Newcastle-under-Lyme)
Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green)
Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak)
Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr)
Shabanah Mahmood (Lab Ladywood)
John Spellar (Lab Warley)
Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston)
Valerie Vaz (Lab Walsall South)
David Winnick (Lab Walsall North)
Tom Watson (Lab West Bromwich East)
David Wright (Lab Telford)