University Education: A Luxury for the Rich?

In the aftermath of the shortages of university places this summer, comes another development – a potential rise in tuition fees. At present, the current cap for tuition fees is £3,290, but under a free market, universities would become free to charge more than £10,000 a year for course. The sharp rise would automatically price out many poorer students of a university education, as this article suggests.

A report by Lord Browne recommends that universities should be allowed the keep all the income from tuition fees up to an annual level of £10,000. The report also puts forward that universities should be allowed to cross this threshold if they pay a rising proportion of additional income into a central fund that could be used to help support students from poorer backgrounds.

If the recommendations of the report are accepted, it could have an enormous impact on the current university system, levels of student debt and the politics involved in accessing higher education in general.

Vince Cable, the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills and David Willetts, the higher education minister, are convinced of the need to increase fees alongside “progressive” measures to help the poorest.

Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said: “If this is true, then Browne’s attempt to deliver a free market in higher education is a proof that he is seeking to price out the poorer students. The average debt already is in excess of £25,000.”

Categories: Higher Education

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