Tuition Fees in British Universities Essay
British higher education enjoyed the golden days of 70s 80s when the generous support of taxpayer was even protected from the intrusion of the Government by the autonomous University Grants Panel. During this period, not only there were no tuition fees but there was also a generous means-tested mandatory grants enjoyed by most of the students. The Labour party represented by Mr Charles Clarke, Secretary of State for Education, proposed legislation for top-up fees which became law in the Higher Education Act 2005, though it will be implemented in the 2006 2007 academic year.
Previously the undergraduate fees in most universities were 1, 050. However , by the implementation of differential fees or top-up the universities will be able to charge much more. According to the Guardian (2002) The new proposals would mean that universities could charge nearer the real cost of studying, thought to be an average of 5, 000 in the UK.
But depending on the company, department and course, it could be much more. More loans would be available to allow students to pay fees up front side. This issue has been debated by different parties and is still facing a lot of opposition despite the fact that it is meant to be implemented in the academic year 2006 3 years ago. In this paper I am going to study the arguments for and against under the following titles: The Government’s debate for top-up tuition fees originates from describing the role and mission of universities and the challenges they face to accomplish their goals.
Mr Clarke summarises the ambitions that the Government is planning to achieve by the proposal in his white paper since: Then he further states the role of universities nationally in adapting to the changing world and effecting change rather than being affected by this. Then he identifies the missions of the schools: are research, knowledge transfer and, perhaps most important of almost all, teaching (Clarke, White Paper Speech) Then he describes the challenges universities face to achieve these missions and argues for an endowment’ device as the best solution for creating a financial regime’.
However , this will take a long time before it becomes a reliable source. Therefore he argues for the short term funding and concludes: The Government’s justification is that this is only fair since graduates earn double the earnings of nongraduates and therefore should contribute to the system producing the considerable economic benefits they will enjoy as participants. It is also pointed out that the taxpayer will rightly make a comparison and ask what they benefit from their support of the system.
The Secretary of State for Education announced the details of the Government’s pitch, which can be summarised in the following points: The immediate criticism made was that the Labour Party effected the legislation though their manifesto promise regarding tuition fees reads: We have no plans to introduce University top-up fees, and have legislated to prevent their introduction. The defensive rebuttal made by the Labour Party is that the legislation will not take effect during 2001 2005 Parliament which angered even the supporters of the Labour Party who did not like this mechanism of defence.
On the other palm, the Liberal Democrats Party has a strong counter debate based on a number of details. Firstly they think that top-up fees are unfair for a number of reasons: Secondly, the Liberal Democrats claim that top-up fees will not solve the funding problem. While there is no question that universities need money, the important question is where this money should come by.
The Government’s argument in support of top-up fees is that it will create a more sustainable funding regime, the same justification of for tuition fees which did not sort out the funding problem for universities. Similar results are expected with top-up fees. Thirdly the Liberal Democrats believe that the Government’s scheme is bad.
Finally the liberal Democrats are of the opinion that education should be free and nobody should be denied access to learning because of their financial abilities. This cannot be achieved unless tuition is free. The Liberal Democrats are challenged by a valid problem: What would you do? They promise that they would abolish all tuition fees. In other words they would cancel the present 1125 and make sure that no other charge will be considered.
In addition they would assist the low-income students by reintroducing maintenance grants to meet living costs and restore the students’ right to housing and unemployment benefits during summer. The assistance will not be limited to students it will also be extended to universities by providing more resources that will enable them to recruit and retain good staff and improve the quality of services in terms of buildings and libraries and so forth A more ambitious resolution is the subsequent: However , how is this going to be achieved?
The Liberal Democrats say that these commitments can be funded by their proposed 50% income tax for those who earn more than 100, 000. Whether this would be sufficient or not is another question to be solved. Universities UK, a body representing vice-chancellors, is of the opinion that the Education Bill (which is now a law) is necessary and fair.
(Brown, 2003) Brown emphasises the need for increased funding for university teaching, which had been reduced over the last two decades resulting in universities facing difficulties to achieve their main goals. He asserts that we risk losing our international reputation for the quality and effectiveness of our higher education system. Another Universities UK authority asked to comment by the BBC News commented as uses: Therefore , we can conclude that universities support the Government’s proposal and see it as the most appropriate solution.
Brown in his articles dismissed the counter argument of the Conservatives and concluded that the Government’s proposal is fair and offers a sustainable answer: On the other side, students represented by National Union of Pupils, seem to be against the to-up fees scheme and are pointing out the fall in applications for universities which they describe as extremely worrying. In the words of NUS president Kat Fletcher, The drop in applications is extremely being concerned, and suggests that top-up fees and the debt they represent are deterring potential students.
According to Mandy Telford, National Union of Students leader: It is obvious that the students are against the scheme and are worried about consequences they portrait whether they are actual or assumed types. It is definite that the scheme proposed by the Government is facing a lot of opposition mainly from obviously the Liberal Democrats, the UK’s well organized National Student Unions, the Labour Party’s vocal political left. This is so despite the fact that some parts of the Government’s proposal seem fair and plausible. It would have been in the interest of all parties concerned to remove the issue from the political agenda and refer it to professionals to study and recommend feasible solutions. http://www.gse.buffalo.edu/org/inthigheredfinance/Publications/Fear%20and%20Loathing%20of%20Tuition%20Fees%20PDF.pdf