University tuition fees were first introduced by Tony Blair’s government in 1998, though devolution in Scotland and Wales a year later saw both countries establish their own policy.
Tuition fees in England rose to £3,000 under Labour before the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition controversially announced in 2010 the annual fees would treble to £9,000.
It proved a particularly painful policy for the Lib Dems as it broke the party’s vote-winning pledge to abolish them.
So where do the parties stand on the issue heading into the 2017 election?
Labour has pledged to remove university tuition fees in England and restore maintenance grants.
It calculates the annual combined cost at £11.2bn with £9.5bn covering the removal of the fees.
The party said it would bring forward the measure to benefit students beginning university this autumn if it wins the election.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted to “lift the cloud of debt” on students.
The Conservatives will not scrap university tuition fees.
Theresa May’s government passed legislation in April that will see tuition fees rise every year until 2020 in line with inflation.
The party said any universities wanting to charge maximum tuition fees must “become involved” in sponsoring an academy or the founding of free schools.
The Liberal Democrats have also ruled out offering to scrap university tuition fees, saying it is not affordable.
Former environment secretary Sir Ed Davey said the party plans to restore maintenance grants in order to help the “most disadvantaged students”.
Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg – who faced heavy criticism for the Lib Dem’s infamous pledge U-turn – said Labour’s plan was “the wrong choice now”.
Ukip has pledged to scrap tuition fees – but only for “able students”.
The party groups them as those “pursuing courses in the sciences, technology, maths or medicine”.
Ukip said it would charge university students from the EU the “same amount in tuition fees” as foreign students from non-EU countries, a policy it said would raise £600 million each year.
It also wants to see the government abandon its target of 50% of school leavers going to university.
The Green Party has pledged to scrap tuition fees.
Bristol West candidate Molly Scott Cato said the party believed free education “is a right, not a privilege” and condemned fees for saddling students with “a mountain of debt they are unable to pay”.
The Greens also vowed to reinstate the maintenance grant, which was offered to students from low income backgrounds until it was scrapped by the Conservatives in 2015.