Letter: Student fees: nation must foot the bill

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is misleading for Mark Tweedale and others (letter, 19 July) to suggest that Britain's higher education system is somehow less accessible than those of France and Germany. Only a small minority of those registered as students in those two countries actually graduate with a university award. The completion rates in Spain and Italy are even lower.

The universities of our major European partners recruit vast cohorts of school-leavers and then eliminate most of them through an unforgiving selection procedure in subsequent years. British universities enable all those who apply themselves to their studies to graduate within the three or four years allocated for undergraduate courses.

Rather than emulate our continental neighbours, whose universities offer entry to all but prizes to few, we must ensure that our students continue to benefit from a supportive learning environment at every stage of study. If all those who enter university can count on fulfilling study and look forward to graduating with a qualification of value, then they should not balk at a share in the financial investment that this will necessitate.

PAUL TAYLOR

The University of Greenwich

Woolwich Campus

London SE18

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