According to the BBC News certain ‘Ancient’ and ‘Red Brick’ Universities in the UK want to raise student tuition fees above the current £3,225-a-year. In some cases the sum of £9,000 per year has been suggested. The Russell Group comprises:
- University of Birmingham
- University of Bristol
- University of Cambridge
- Cardiff University
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Glasgow
- Imperial College London
- King’s College London, (University of London)
- University College London, (University of London)
- University of Leeds
- University of Liverpool
- London School of Economics, (University of London)
- University of Manchester
- University of Newcastle
- University of Nottingham
- Queen’s University Belfast
- University of Oxford
- University of Sheffield
- University of Southampton
- University of Warwick
and thinks that:
The influential Russell Group, representing 20 prestigious universities, has now told the review that the only practical way of funding higher education is to have higher charges for students. There would also be a reduction in the subsidy on student loans, with repayments at more of a commercial rate. It argues that the fairest and most effective system is to charge the students whose job prospects will have improved by getting a degree. It wants higher fees to create a “more differentiated market in higher education”, in which the different costs of courses – and potential value to students – would be reflected in the price.
But, why is this the only practical way? Why do student loans need to suffer from reduced subsidy? Why is this fairer?
In reality it seems that these Universities wish to make more money than they currently are doing – I don’t notice any of these universities contracting particularly. The student loans subsidy increases are to account for the loans system (running a deficit) argued for as apart of actually introducing the initial loan concept. I’ve no idea why this is fairer unless the Russell Group is actually saying that the higher the price per degree programme the better the degree programme. I’d suggest the likes of Oxford and Cambridge could provide terrible teaching outcomes but still charge any amount they like based on their research reputation and that of being an ‘Ancient’. Neither has any direct link to teaching quality and outcomes – although research does have an implied link to teaching outcomes.
I am not averse to some form of charging, indeed I think proportionate student fees are good thing, but this must be measured – anything over £3,500 being way too much in the present climate; and the loan must be subsidised. In fact the Welsh system seems to be working well – lets start with that as a template!
Addendum – 18th May 2010
It seems to me that ‘fairness’, so paramount in the minds of the Russell Group hierarchy, would be best served based on academic ability and not financial ability. If there is a shortfall in costs then this should be made up from central funding – in this way we all have some ‘skin in the game’1.
- A term coined by renowned investor Warren Buffett referring to a situation in which high-ranking insiders use their own money to buy stock in the company they are running. In this case I’m using it to suggest that Student, Government, and University should all have some investment in the education of students, which we’ll loose if we fail.