Lord Browne’s review into higher education and student funding was released today, calling for the cap on tuition fees to be lifted.
If the recommendations within the review were to be acted upon tuition fees at some universities could raise to £12,000 a year.
Among the proposals within the review are calls for the interest paid back on student loans to be charged at the rate of borrowing from the government (currently 2.2%) plus inflation. Currently student loans interest rates are subsidised. The point at which graduates would start repaying the cost of their fees would go up from £15,000 to £21,000. The debt would be written off after 30 years, instead of the current timeframe of 25 years.
Paul Wellings, Lancaster University’s Vice Chancellor said: “The Browne Review is the first progressive step in a long process to address the important issue of university funding, and we are pleased that the 1994 Group’s call to increase university resources has been heard. Everyone’s priority has to be to reassure students of all backgrounds that they will be able to attend a university with the resources necessary to offer academic excellence and the very best experience.”
But the President of Lancaster University Students’ Union, Robbie Pickles warned against underestimating how students will react to the news. He said: “Attempts to spin this as a ‘progressive step’ will fall flat. Students are not stupid, and neither are their parents. They will struggle under increased debt and our communities will struggle if less people can afford the education needed to fulfil a valuable role in society. Where will the teachers, doctors and nurses of the future come from?”
“Lord Browne’s review has certainly provided food for thought for many organisations, but it is important to remember that it is not a government proposal yet.”
Commenting on the release of the Lord Browne Review of Higher Education and Student Funding, Aaron Porter, National Union of Students President said: “If adopted, Lord Browne’s review would hand universities a blank cheque and force the next generation to pick up the tab for devastating cuts to higher education. The only thing students and their families would stand to gain from higher fees would be higher debts.
“A market in course prices between universities would increasingly pressure on students to make decisions based on cost rather than academic ability or ambition. Those already feeling the pinch will clearly be unwilling to take such a gamble and face being priced out of the universities that would opt to charge sky-high fees.”
The Conservative Minister for Universities, David Willetts said: “The current system of funding for higher education is no longer fit for purpose. Any new funding settlement must promote world class competitiveness in teaching and research, with better quality for students.
“I would like to thank Lord Browne and his panel who have worked in a truly independent, open and consultative manner, for all their efforts and we will carefully consider the recommendations.”
The Government will make an oral statement to Parliament in response to the report at 3:30pm today.
The full story on Lord Browne’s review will be published in the next issue of SCAN, out on October 19.