The funding of higher education remains deficient

Share

For all those universities given the green light by the Government's Office for Fair Access to charge students £3,000 a year from 2006, the outlook looks considerably less bleak this morning. At last they have been guaranteed the income they so urgently need, and without which they would have inevitably slipped into long-term decline.

For all those universities given the green light by the Government's Office for Fair Access to charge students £3,000 a year from 2006, the outlook looks considerably less bleak this morning. At last they have been guaranteed the income they so urgently need, and without which they would have inevitably slipped into long-term decline.

But the announcement also highlights how deficient our higher education funding mechanism remains. The primary objective of tuition fees was to guarantee more funds for our universities - all of which have been struggling financially as a result of the Government's drive to send 50 per cent of school leavers into higher education. While the money from fees will help, it is by no means enough. It is estimated that universities require some £8bn a year if standards are to be maintained. The extra revenue from the new system will only add up to £1.3bn. The £3,000 cap on fees - inserted into last year's tuition fees Bill to appease Labour backbenchers - must be raised.

Another reason for raising the cap is to ensure there is a proper market in the provision of higher education. More than 90 per cent of universities will charge the maximum fee. This means there will be almost no price differentiation among degree courses next year. At the moment, the pressure on universities to increase revenue is greater than the pressure to attract students. Only when universities are permitted to charge something approximating to the true worth of a particular course will there be real competition. And competition is the only way to guarantee the higher education standards our economy demands.

Of course, it is important that those from poorer backgrounds are not put off by the size of the fees (although it must be remembered that these will not be paid back until after graduation). For this reason, the generous bursaries and incentive schemes announced yesterday are welcome. The flourishing state of many American universities shows that such schemes are effective.

The first hurdle in reforming the funding of our higher education system has been cleared. But there is a considerable distance still to be covered.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine