We await the review of Lord Browne of Madingley on university finance, but Universities minister David Willetts has already intimated that the cap on tuition fees may be varied or removed. Paying for university education has become more problematic over the years as student numbers have increased dramatically. Covering the full cost of a student’s university education has become less viable now that more than forty per cent of the 18-21 age cohort go to college or university. One either has to attract funding from sources other than the public purse or reduce the number of students. Universities have sought increasingly to recruit overseas students who have the advantage of paying full fees and doing so up front. Increasing tuition fees for home students will not be popular and in the short term will actually increase the burden on the Treasury, given that they are not paid up-front.
The present situation is not sustainable and the pressures are exacerbated by the economic situation. Is there, then, an alternative to increasing tuition fees? Or is increasing fees a necessary evil? Readers comments are welcome.