Extortionate fees deserve a revolution

3rd December 2010 at 00:00

Why is it so important to resist the coalition Government's plans to raise tuition fees? Let's roll the film of history forward 20 years: if its plans are passed, what would higher education look like?

Tuition fees are now #163;15,000 a year; students are leaving university with debts of #163;100,000. Some universities are offering lower tuition fees and either four-year part-time courses or two-year full-time degrees. However, the quality of the courses is questionable, teaching staff are badly paid and facilities are poor. They are regarded as second-rate degrees.

There are some bursaries and scholarships for science, technology, engineering and maths courses, but most are provided by large corporations. Arts courses have become the preserve of the wealthy, while Oxford, Cambridge and 10 other leading universities have left the state sector and are private institutions. Their fees are anything up to #163;40,000 a year.

Implausible? Far-fetched? Exaggerated? What I have just described is the American higher education system in 2010. France charges negligible tuition fees - a few hundred euros. Why would its government never be able to get away with extortionate charges for higher education? Because there would be a revolution.

Richard Knights, Liverpool.

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