The Browne review into student finance and higher education funding received some forthright evidence last week about how much more finance universities needed. Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, went so far as to say that her members would have to consider radical steps such as going private if the government didn't increase cash for the universities. And Paul Wellings, vice chancellor of Lancaster University, said students would expect to see minimum class sizes and a commitment to a given amount of contact time with lecturers if the cap were to be raised on top-up fees.
Indications are that the review chaired by the former BP boss Lord Browne is minded to be pretty radical in its conclusions. Certainly everyone in the universities is expecting the cap on fees to be lifted. By how much is the big question. The Russell Group is right to be worried about funding. Only this week the coalition government announced a further cut of £200m from higher education. This makes it all the more important that the recommendations of the Browne review are implemented. The worry is that Labour MPs will get together with Lib Dem rebels to vote down proposals to raise tuition fees. If the Government is not prepared to fund higher education at an acceptable level it has to allow universities to charge students more.