John McDonnell has pledged Labour will scrap tuition fees “once and for all” if they get into power at next month’s General Election.
Students attending English universities currently pay up to £9,250 per year for their education.
In a speech to voters in Mansfield, Mr McDonnell said his party would do away with the fees altogether if voters back them at the polls.
“We’ve always believed as a movement that education is a gift from one generation to another,” he said.
“It’s not a commodity to be bought and sold. So we want to introduce – just as the Atlee government with Nye Bevan introduced the National Health Service – we want to introduce a national education service.
“Free at the point of need throughout life. And that means ending the cuts in the schools at primary and secondary level. It means free childcare. It means free school training when you need it throughout life.
“And yes it means scrapping tuition fees once and for all so we don’t burden our kids with debt for the future.”
Jeremy Corbyn made tuition fees a clear part of his leadership bid in 2015 but Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has so far declined to make a clear commitment.
Speaking in an interview earlier today, Ms Rayner said “watch this space” when asked about the fees.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We will be setting out our detailed plans for higher education in our manifesto.”