Cuts watch #86: higher fees would deter students
Higher university fees could force thousands of young people to give up on going to university, according to a new report.
Universities Minister David Willetts hinted that the government is considering raising fees when he argued a fortnight ago that students were “a burden on the taxpayer” and that higher fees should be seen more as a higher rate of income tax than a debt.
The Russell Group of elite universities, which supports such a policy, has argued that fees “have not deterred young people from applying to university” but that “any increase in graduate contributions should be accompanied by measures to address concerns about fair access and widening participation.” Universities will almost certainly argue for increased fees if funding from central government is cut.
An Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance, chaired by Lord Browne is currently reviewing the issue. There has been speculation that it may recommend that, from 2013, fees should be raised by £1,000 every year, reaching £7,000 a year to go to Oxford or Cambridge, £14,000 a year to study for a science degree.
A MORI survey, published today by educational charity the Sutton Trust shows that record numbers of young people want to go on to higher education – 39 per cent of 11 – 16 year olds said they were ‘very likely’ to do so and another 41 per cent said they were ‘fairly likely’.
But the level of fees had a significant impact. 68 per cent they would still be likely to go on to higher education if fees rose to £5,000, but this fell to 45% if they were raised to £7,000 and 26% if they were raised to £10,000.
Young people will be finding it harder to get into university in any case – as Nicola has noted, three-quarters of universities are cutting or freezing the number of places they offer.