Letter: Graduate tax: unfair penalty or key to university growth?

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Sir: As recent graduates of the London School of Economics, we are appalled at the proposals by John Ashworth, the director, to charge fees for undergraduate courses.

We believe that this totally undermines the principle of a universally accessible higher education system. Loss of benefits, freezing of grants and the introduction of student loans have put an almost unbearable financial strain on today's students, and have deterred many people from taking up a university education. The introduction of a system of pay as you learn fees will only further exclude higher education from those who are unable to afford three years of study.

In 1996 the LSE will be celebrating its centenary year. In those 100 years the school has gained a reputation for attracting students from every walk of life. If the LSE introduces fees, it will start its second century by excluding from its corridors all but the richest in society.

If Dr Ashworth believes that conventional methods of funding higher education are no longer adequate for colleges such as the LSE, he should take the matter up with John Patten and his colleagues at the Department of Education, rather than penalising the potential students of tomorrow with a system of fees.

If he can make his argument to Mr Patten half as coherently as the teachers and head teachers have, he will be doing education a far greater service than introducing top-up fees.

Yours sincerely,





London, E5

7 June