Labour or the Tories must commit to raising the education budget in England to more than £55m ($83m) if they want to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats after the general election, Nick Clegg has declared.
The deputy prime minister, in a speech at the National Liberal Club in Westminster this morning (28 April), also said that the next government must hike spending on nurseries, schools and colleges.
"Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have been prepared to commit to education in the way that we have. Labour have said they will increase education spending in line with prices but not pupil numbers. The Tories have said they will increase it in line with pupil numbers but not prices," Clegg argued.
The Liberal Democrat leader also claimed that his party would "bring a heart and a head" to the next government.
"What we know in our hearts is that spreading opportunity and giving people a fair chance in life is what we're in politics for – it's why we get up in the morning," Clegg said.
The deputy prime minister also called for a so called "Stability Budget" within the first 50 days of the next parliament.
The comments come as the opinion polls predict that a hung parliament, where no party has a majority in the House of Commons, is the most likely outcome after the 7 May vote.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has ruled out any kind of deal with the SNP after the election, making the Liberal Democrats their most viable coalition partner.
The Tories, meanwhile, took a blow after one of their possible partners after the 7 May criticised their "English votes for English laws (Evel)" policy.
Nigel Dodds, who has led the unionist party in the Commons, wrote in The Guardian: "I have yet to hear from a Tory colleague standing in England that a single door anywhere has been opened with the query, "whither Evel?" But it's not just a flawed political tactic, it's also a constitutional mess.
"The Commons can't be used as an ersatz, part-time English Assembly. It's the union parliament, and abusing it in this way wouldn't and couldn't answer England's real needs."
There are no just nine days to go before the general election, with the Tories one point ahead of Labour (35% vs 34%) in the latest opinion poll from YouGov.
The survey, conducted between 26 and 27 April, also put Ukip on 12%, the Liberal Democrats on 9% and the Greens on 5%.