By Jonathan Davies

The Labour leader Ed Miliband today (Friday) will set out his plans to cut tuition fees by a third, if the party wins the general election.

Mr Miliband will say that the rising levels of student debt, as a result of the £9,000 tuition fees introduced by the coalition at the start of this government, is a "disaster".

In a speech in Leeds, the Labour leader will outline how the party plans to pay for the reduction in university fees. It is expected that reducing tax relief for wealthy pensioners will be a key area.

A Conservative spokesperson said that the number of people from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university was at its "highest ever level".

Business secretary Vince Cable, a member of the Liberal Democrat party which famously promised not to raise tuition fees, said cutting fees would be "completely financially illiterate".

Universities are against the idea as well. Universities UK has warned that reducing fees to £6,000 a year would create a £10bn funding gap over the next five years, in turn causing "significant damage" to the higher education system.

Ed Miliband is also expected to announce measures to support students' living costs. Many students from middle class backgrounds have complained of not being able to secure sufficient student loans.

"The government has designed a system which is burdening students with debt today and set to weight down the taxpayer with more debt tomorrow," the Labour leader is expected to say.

"This is a system that will have added an extra £16bn more than predicted to public debt by the end of the next Parliament. If left unchecked, the system will have added £281bn to debt by 2030.

"And much of this money will never be paid back. By the late 2040s, student loan write-offs will be hitting £21bn a year - almost double the entire cost of police services in England and Wales. It must go down as one of the most expensive broken promises in history."