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The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Howard Newby, has discussed the future of financing universities with the Times Higher Education (THE), ahead of the University’s Global Universities of the 21st Century conference.
He said that universities could anticipate a future where the cap on tuition fees is removed, allowing institutions to charge what they want, provided they subsidise the costs incurred by students from poorer backgrounds.
He said: “The most rational way to deal with the financing of HE is to have fees that have no cap. In return universities have to make adequate provision for looking after students who can’t afford to pay that fee.”
He argued that this approach, which is in line with the recommendations published in the 2010 Browne Review, would mean a sliding scale for tuition fees, where more money is devoted to meeting the cost of HE.
He also discussed the impact of the May European election, stating that it created a certain “mood” that could potentially deter overseas students from applying to UK universities. Referring to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the Vice-Chancellor compared a fall in international applicant numbers to a period of increased ‘Euro-scepticism’.
Global Universities of the 21st Century conference is part of Liverpool’s International Festival for Business and takes place on 24-26 June 2014.
For more information about the event please visit: http://www.liv.ac.uk/ifb2014/
To read the full interview in the THE please visit: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/subsidies-and-uncapped-fees-most-rational-way-to-finance-universities/2014016.article
Response from Liverpool Guild of Students:
We have consistently argued for increased support for those students from poorer backgrounds. We believe that access to University should be available for all students regardless of their socio-economic status.
While we are pleased to see the Vice Chancellor stating the importance of providing support for students from poorer backgrounds, we believe that removing the cap on tuition fees will further discourage poorer students from attending University. Furthermore, we are particularly uneasy with this statement given the consistent cuts to funding for poorer students his administration have carried out.
Last November, the Government made the decision to cut the National Scholarship Programme from £150m to just £50m. In line with this, the University of Liverpool opted to reduce the amount it offered in bursary provision, choosing not to plug the shortfall in funding. National and local data suggests the number one reason students drop out of University is due to financial difficulties – and we believe lifting the cap on tuition fees will only worsen this issue.
During recent discussions about the Access Agreement, we asked for the Access to Learning Fund to be ring-fenced to make sure students who are in need desperate need of financial aid can access it when necessary. This funding has yet to be secured and looks set to be removed.
Only a few weeks ago we launched our campaign to save Disabled Students Allowance. This funding is vital in providing support for disabled students. We asked the Vice Chancellor to support our campaign, to which we have had no response as yet.
We are hugely concerned by calls to lift the tuition fee cap. Removing the tuition fee cap will ultimately mean that Universities will raise their fees meaning that poorer students will find it even more difficult to access University. We are greatly disappointed that Sir Howard Newby chose to make this statement in light of his institutions decisions on funding that for access and retention of students.
At Liverpool Guild of Students we believe that adequate financial support and a comprehensive access and retention strategy is the best way to ensure students from lower socio-economic backgrounds can attend University, not a rise in tuition fees.
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