From Mark Harrison’s blog – Student Fees: Four Myths and a Certainty
Professor Mark Harrison (economist) offers an intelligent, well-argued, timely and rather pithy contribution to the fees debate:
Student fees are in the news again. These are the top-up fees paid by British and EU students to take degree courses at British universities, presently capped at £3,225 a year. They're called “top-ups” because they help to bridge the gap between the public money that goes to universities and the actual cost of degree programmes — which is considerably more. So, should our universities be allowed to raise their fees? The government has announced a review. The lobbies are brushing up their arguments. Everyone has their opinions about the justice or injustice of student fees. As it turns out, fairness and economics are closely connected, but not always in the way that the lobbies think.
He observes that low (or no) fees benefit primarily the middle-classes:
Hundreds of thousands of middle class families know they can benefit to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds from no fees or low fees for their children. In contrast, the gain to society from higher fees will be spread more thinly over millions of citizens, none of whom may feel confident of reaping a personal gain — particularly if they have children that may become students in due course.
It’s going to be an interesting review.