Letter: University charges would deter poorer students

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The Independent Online
WE ARE alarmed that the London School of Economics has mooted the idea of charging students tuition fees in a letter to its staff (' 'Pay as you learn' shock for students', 6 June).

We thank the LSE's director, John Ashworth, for drawing attention to the Government's appalling lack of funding for higher education, but are disturbed that he should suggest burdening students with a responsibility that clearly should be met by the Government, a point acknowledged by Mr Ashworth in November 1990 when the LSE Co-ordinating Committee advised that a change in funding was 'the responsibility of the Government and not individual institutions'.

While we understand demand is increasing and supply is limited, we maintain that education should be free at the point of entry. Any system of tuition fees would be a disincentive to applicants from poorer backgrounds - not encouraging the greater access the Government claims to want. A scholarship scheme as proposed would be a bureaucratic nightmare to rival that of the student loans scheme.

Students have witnessed an inexorable contraction of their resources. Tuition fees will make the higher education option even less attractive. We should be remedying the vulnerable financial position of students before we lay yet more financial burdens at their feet.

Lorna Fitzsimons

NUS President, London N7