Sir: Deciding how to solve the funding crisis in higher education will indeed be "the most difficult policy decision on education faced by the Government", as you report (17 July). It is, however, plainly ridiculous to suggest that this can be done in an equitable way by making students pay upwards of pounds 1,000 for their tuition.
Introducing tuition fees and abolishing maintenance grants, an option also said to be included in the Dearing report, would undoubtedly deter those from less privileged backgrounds from going on to higher education. It would ensure that many students finished university with debts of pounds 20,000 plus.
The Government must address the fact that Britain has significantly lower rates of participation in higher education than, for example, France and Germany and has the lowest level of government expenditure on higher education as a percentage of GDP of any country in Europe.
The only solution that will guarantee access to education is for government spending to be increased in line with the increase in student numbers. That might require progressive taxation and a thorough review of government spending priorities. But it would maintain Labour's contract with millions of present and would-be students and their families who were told Labour opposed fees before the general election.
President Elect, Bradford College
President, Sheffield University Students' Union
Women's Officer, Sheffield University Students' Union
Academic and Welfare Officer, Goldsmiths' College Student Union
President, Bradford College
Education and Welfare Officer, University of East London
Welfare Officer Elect, Bangor University
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