UNIVERSITIES minister Greg Clark heaped praise on Worcester during a city visit today - and took a swipe at Labour for looking to slash tuition fees.

The Conservative minister went on a tour of the impressive £15 million University Arena and the £60 million Hive, admitting he was blown away by the sparking facilities.

Mr Clark, who is also minister for science and cities, told your Worcester News it was “inspirational”, saying he’d be urging other universities around the UK to learn from the city.

During his stay, accompanied by the city’s Tory parliamentary candidate Robin Walker, he also criticised Labour leader Ed Miliband over his proposal to cut tuition fees, calling it “risky”.

The arena and Hive, the two gold-cladded developments either side of the riverside, have long been credited for transforming Worcester.

Mr Clark said: "I think they are excellent ideas on every level, and the University of Worcester deserves enormous credit.

"I've been to dozens of universities across the country but the way this has been done is inspirational, the university has been the fastest growing and it's an example to the rest of the country.

"The idea of the Hive, done with the university and (county) council means it's more efficient, it's shared by families, children and students and that breaks down barriers.

"You get an adult walk in there and borrow the same books students might, that gives them encouragement and could lead to them thinking about university too.

"And I'm really impressed with the arena. It's imaginative, it's very creative, disabled people come here, I'm keen to see more of this elsewhere.

"This is a creative city."

During his tour of the 2,000-seater arena, which is home to Worcester Wolves basketball team and a national centre of excellence for disabled sports, he described it as "like an American college".

On Mr Miliband's proposal to cut tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000, he said: "He's said he'd cut it, but the way in which they'd fund that gap is rather vague.

"Universities like to plan long-term and the tuition fees give them that - this would jeopardise being able to plan ahead, I think it's risky."

Mr Miliband has called the higher fees a "betrayal of an entire generation", leaving students with average debts of £44,000.

He also got to meet with students using the facilities and Professor David Green, the vice-chancellor.