New Conservative position on fees?

Which seems to be: neither higher nor lower, we should neither raise nor lower the cap

According to a Guardian report on a recent speech:

The Conservatives today called for the review of tuition fees planned for 2009 to start now to allow for enough preparation time. The government has promised a review of the increased tuition fees regime in two years. But, in a speech at Sheffield University, shadow universities secretary David Willetts said: “A proper review takes time. We do not need to make a decision any sooner than the government suggests – but why waste this two years which could be spent collecting data, talking to people, or analysing what is happening?

“We are not calling for the cap to be lifted and we are not calling for it to be lowered. Nobody knows enough about tuition fees and their impact to make any decisions at all on this issue,” he said.

Suggesting that a review be brought forward a bit does not appear to represent a bold new position.

Moreover, we need more information:

Mr Willetts also urged universities to give students and their parents more information about contact hours, class sizes and employability before they start courses. “Students and their parents are not simply concerned about the cost of higher education. They care about quality. Students now regard themselves as customers, and they want to know that they are investing in the right student experience. He claimed the national student survey was being manipulated by universities and called for a national student experience website to pull together information on research ratings, drop-out rates, library facilities and university estates, as well as contact hours, class sizes and employability.

Sounds a bit like a combination of the Sunday Times League Table and the data recently produced by HEPI – see earlier post on this topic. And isn’t this what the new (as yet unlaunched) Unistats site is largely intended to address?

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