Meeting on the ledge

(or why I don't get out much…..)

Student fees

There’s a fascinating story on the BBC website today about a recent student survey done by the Dept for Innovation, Universities and Skills. A series of ‘student juries’ were asked for their views on University life, and not surprisingly fees came out as one of the main concerns. They were understandably worried about graduating with an average debt of £12,000. Typical new Labour phrases such as ‘Value for Money’, ‘Transparency’, ‘Guaranteed levels of service’ were used, as you’d expect from a generation of 18-21 year olds who probably don’t even remember the previous government. There was even a suggestion that arts undergraduates should pay less than science undergrads because they have less teaching time and need less resources (which would make for a very interesting fees structure not to say economic impact).

All of these ideas were predicted a few years back when fees were brought in, but were ignored at the time by the decision-makers. It makes for a very dynamic and potentially litigious HE market. In theory those universities which can demonstrate good ‘vfm’ (to use the jargon) will come out the winners. But this is something of a two-edged sword. It doesn’t account for the importance of image – BMW thrive in the car market through having a superior image to their struggling rivals such as Ford but not necessarily superior real quality. In the same way those Universities such as Oxford and Cambridge can continue to cost more in real terms because their graduates are happy to pay extra for the cachet of an Oxbridge degree. They therefore remain viable despite possibly more ‘relaxed’ ways, but the establishments without such image are the ones who struggle. Ironically it may lead to the Universities in the low to middle range who can demonstrate ‘accountability’ (jargon again) being the sufferers?


April 10, 2008 - Posted by | General

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