Lincoln vice-chancellor hits out at possible fees rise

UPDATE — 05/10/10

— By Shane Croucher

Professor Mary Stuart, vice-chancellor of the University of Lincoln, has lashed out at the prospect of students paying higher tuition fees.

“I have always felt higher education should be properly publicly funded. It is a great shame that we do not as a nation feel we can do that. My stance is that higher education must be properly funded and I would be loathed to see students have to pay more,” Stuart says.

Reports in the press over the weekend claim that Lord Browne’s higher education spending review, published later this month, will recommend the cap on tuition fees is hiked up to £10,000 per year.

The University of Lincoln’s previous vice-chancellor, Professor David Chiddick, was also against higher fees. He told The Linc in 2009 that he is “philosophically opposed to increasing fees”.

He also claims he “would not be open to increasing fees once the economy recovers”.

Fees for degree courses at the University of Lincoln mostly hit the cap, meaning the university charges as much as it can, raising fees in line with any cap increases. The cap is currently £3,290.

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Tuition fees could almost treble after the higher education spending review is published, it is speculated.

Students are already fearful that they may be hit by £6,000-7,000 fees, but even heavier burden could be placed on students’ shoulders as Lord Browne is expected to advise a hike of the fee limit to £10,000 in his report.


Students will be protesting against the proposals in November. Photo: Roger Blackwell

The current cap, set at £3,290, coupled with a full loan, means the majority of students carry a debt of around £25,000. In effect, students could be burdened with debts of well over £45,000 after leaving university if Browne’s advice is accepted.

According to a report in The Observer, Browne is also to recommend universities are allowed to breach this £10,000 mark if they pay a proportion of these extra fees into a fund to support poorer students.

University education in the UK is already the 4th most expensive internationally. With a rise of tuition fees to over £5,000 it would become the most expensive. £10,000 would put it £5,928 above the currently most costly country, Iceland.

The results of the review, which will be presented to parliament later this month, could cause a rift between the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Many Lib Dems look likely to rebel against the party agreement to abstain from a vote to increase fees.

Both Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, and Vince Cable, the secretary of state for business, pledged to vote against an increase in tuition fees — but they could decide to break their pledges in the interest of maintaining the coalition.

If these proposals are passed, poor students could be priced out by higher league universities. Speaking to The Observer, Professor Les Ebdon, chair of the university thinktank million+, said: “It creates a two-tier university system, one set of universities for the rich, one set of universities for the poor.”

The NUS and University and College Union (UCU) have plans to counter these proposals, with a demonstration by students across the UK on November 10th in London.

One Response to Lincoln vice-chancellor hits out at possible fees rise

  1. Scott Wheeler says:

    I have to say this article strikes me as being on the populist and unbalanced side. You picked out selective quotes that fitted into your article. You left out this crucial piece from the Guardian:

    “Vince Cable, the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, the department that includes universities, and David Willetts, the higher education minister, are said to be convinced of the need to increase fees, but only to the level of £7,000, and alongside “progressive” measures to help the poorest.”

    Tuition fees will not go up to £10,000. The coalition wants to be seen as progressive. With three quarters of students saying that £7,000 fees would put them off the idea that they will put them up to £10,000 is simply nonsense. If (and it is a huge if) they do go up to £10,000 then they will offer massive incentives by radically increasing grants and bursaries.

    Personally I favour a graduate tax. It strikes a fair balance between making the middle class pay for their education, but in a way in which is progressive.