Donald Nutbeam on Raising Tuition Fees

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There is plenty of debate occurring on this blog already about the raising of the cap on tuition fees, so I won’t repeat what has already been said. Instead here is a statement from Vice-Chancellor Donald Nutbeam about the issue.

The University of Southampton has not actively promoted an increase in student fees. However, along with other leading universities in the UK, we recognise the dilemma now facing the government in enabling Universities to secure the level of investment that is needed to maintain quality and accessible education, and world leading research.

Under current arrangements the lion’s share of the funding for Universities comes from the taxpayer in the form of public funding. Students also make a “private” contribution that can be deferred by taking a loan, repayable if and when a graduate’s income exceeds a defined level. These loans are at preferential rates and are, in effect, subsidised.

The Government has to decide whether and how to change the balance between public and private contributions to higher education. The Russell Group of leading research universities has taken a pragmatic view that the only viable option for supporting sufficient funding for a world class higher education system is to increase the “private” contribution made through graduate tuition fees. Taxpayers will still foot the majority costs, but graduates would contribute more in recognition of the substantial personal benefits that they secure through attending university. As a member of the Russell Group the University supports this direction.

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Discussion5 Comments

  1. avatar

    To be fair regardless of your stance he has a point the majority of our education at university is paid for by the taxpayer.

    Chris Houghton
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    Agreed – the money has to come from somewhere. If not from the taxpayer, then from the students’ pockets themselves. While I do not advocate rises in tuition fees, I am not strongly against their rise either, as it is perfectly understandable why they might need to be raised.

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    I agree Universities need to be well funded, but why does it have to be at the expense of a student? It is only this year that we’ve seen such drastic cuts to HE, yet top up fees were introduced 3 years ago. So how have universities got into this state where they need extra fees to fund themselves? What happened with the money from 3 years of fees? Similarly, what difference did students see for paying extra fees? As far as most students I speak to say, there is no change in the quality of education etc from when there were no fees, to now. I think fees can only be raised properly if there is an improvement to students’ education. Also, if fees are raised this could put off students from lower income backgrounds, who are just as talented. I know you don’t have to pay fees upfront, but the prospect of that much debt could put anyone off. Couple that with the Russell Group proposals for interest rates on loans and you’re just spiralling students into more debt, when University, fees and loans were meant to help us get on the career ladder and find our feet!

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    All that would happen is lower income students going elewhere and the now smaller university will balance its sheets with the funds of the elite, back to how things were.

    Imagine this, in France a top university charges €107. the reality of what will happen is a look at the US. An average university charges $17000 per sem, coming to $35000 per year for 4 years, coming to an approx total of $140,000 with an interest rate of 20%.

    If the russell group has its way and puts us on par with international student rates of £10,400 to £23,800 per year with a chance for them to increase each year. If we students have to foot the bill, it comes to approx £31,200 to £71,400 after 3 years.

    I guess it makes sense, but where are we supposed to get the money from? Take a loan that we have to start repaying after we graduate? With the economy and the job markets, what happens if we can’t pay on time? Continue to aquire interest?

    Look at those figures, can you pay that? I can’t.

  4. avatar

    just seen this article for the first time, having just written one about his june e-newsletter, and he is the biggest user of smoke and mirrors ive ever seen! (slight exaggeration)

    essentially: “we dont want to be seen as the instigators of raising tuition fees, but we support an organisation that does so without pinning individual blame on us”. unbelievable.

    I understand the idea behind fees, i think its also a good thing to stop degrees being devalued by everyone having one, but theres a line where elitism begins to dictate over ability..

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