Vice Chancellor calls for constructive debate over fees

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The Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University, Professor Paul Wellings, published an article in the Guardian newspaper yesterday, expressing views that the “new fees will improve the education sector”.

Wellings voiced his opinion on the recent outrage concerning the rise in tuition fees from £3,290 to potentially £9,000 per annum, saying “since the publication of the Browne Review, commentators representing all shades of opinion have filled the airwaves and column inches with portents of doom for UK universities and students. We [the 1994 group] were pleased that the government has proposed raising the graduate contribution cap to £9,000”.

The 1994 group was established in order to bring together 19 research-focused universities across the UK, helping the members to promote their common interests.

Having suggested that it is quite acceptable for students to want to protest what they assume to be crippling debt, Wellings fears that the uproar students have generated concerning fees will deter intelligent prospective students from applying to university in the future. He said: “All of us in higher education need to be careful not to create false impressions that turn the public against our cause and deter talented people from applying to university”.

Wellings also stated that the 1994 group supports the government’s plans to raise the amount a graduate has to be earning before repayments begin to £21,000. He went on to say “we also agree that there should be no penalties for those unable to make repayments”.

Wellings summed up his article by saying “while they bring many challenges, the revised student support mechanisms and the new fee arrangements have the capacity to improve the competitiveness of the sector”.

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