If the proposals outlined in the Browne Review are implemented, it will have a significant impact on higher education in England. It isn’t all bad news however, there are some who will benefit from the changes:
- Part time students will benefit from the same fees system as full time students, paying back a loan after they graduate. This will make part time degrees a more viable option for those who previously were unable to pay for tuition up front.
- Those of us currently studying won’t be affected by any rise in tuition fees as changes are most likely to be put into effect in 2012 and will only apply to those starting their degrees at that time.
- A free market in fees will allow the most prestigious universities to compete with top US institutions as higher fees will ensure better funding for research. There will always be demand for Oxbridge places so they can get away with charging higher fees without fear of deterring applicants.
Of course, there are also those who will lose out:
- Students will leave university with record levels of debt. The base rate for fees will be £6000 but universities will have the ability to charge much more than that. Graduates will start to pay back their loans once they are earning £21,000.
- Middle income families look to be hit the hardest by the proposals. Low income families will continue to receive extra support and those with higher incomes will be able to afford the fees, but middle income families may struggle.
- Smaller universities, or those without such a good reputation, could also face problems. Government funding could be reduced by up to 80% for all but a few subjects and the raise in tuition fees would be expected to cover this cut. If students are not willing, or cannot afford, to pay higher fees to attend a less prestigious university, then they could face a fall in applicants.