Leading Article: Can pay, will pay?

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The news that tuition fees could be increased to £5,000 a year without any adverse effect on university applications shows how far we have come from the days when students contributed nothing to their higher education. Moreover, this week's report from Universities UK, which looks at future scenarios for student funding, shows that many higher education bosses – though not all – believe they could increase fees to £7,000 without affecting demand for places at their institution.

There is a growing consensus that Britain's top universities need more money. Vice-Chancellors think an annual fee figure of £6,500 is needed to maintain the standard of teaching. The good thing is that a debate has begun in advance of the government review.