Leading article: The case for a rise in tuition fees

Share
Related Topics

Students and their parents, as well as the parents of those children who are likely to go to university in the future, are likely to take a dim view of the proposal yesterday by the Association of Graduate Recruiters for the cap on student top-up fees to be phased out. Fees are currently limited to £3,200 a year but an independent government review, led by the former BP head Lord Browne, which will report after the general election, is considering raising the cap to £7,000.

Complaints about the proposed rises are short-sighted. The truth is that the quality of university education will seriously deteriorate unless annual tuition fees rise. The Government has already announced that public funding to universities will be cut. Thousands of teaching jobs will go as courses and campuses close to cope with cuts of at least £950m over the next three years. Things may get even worse than that.

Fees must rise and there are good arguments for abolishing the cap altogether and introducing a completely free market on fees so that the best universities, which are currently unable to compete for top teaching talent wealthy universities in the United States, will be able to restore their truly elite status. That will drive up standards in higher education which will be better for students and parents, and ensure the UK remains competitive in a global knowledge economy. There is sense too in the suggestion that the government's target of getting 50 per cent of school-leavers into higher education should be abolished. There is a risk that such artificial targets devalue degrees. Scotland, of course, is moving in the opposite direction. The Scottish education secretary has pledged that tuition fees will not be introduced there. It will be an interesting control. In time, Scottish universities will suffer as they are starved of the cash they will need to compete to provide the best teachers and facilities.

Measures will need to be taken to ensure that poorer students are not priced out of the most prestigious universities but that can be done by means-tested grants, improving the student loan system and the launch of a national savings scheme to prepare families for the cost of higher education. A good university education is expensive. Those who can afford to pay for it should do so.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments