Critical evaluation of the student protest and actual details

Almost all universities will charge £9,000-a-year tuition fees to avoid their courses being seen as poor quality, a report will warn today. The vast majority will charge the highest possible fee within a few years because students perceive costlier courses to be more prestigious, analysts said.

They warned that charges of £9,000-a-year across the board would significantly increase the cost to taxpayers of offering students subsidised loans to cover fees. This would potentially force the Government to further raise interest rates on loans or lower the £21,000 salary threshold for repayments to start.

Ministers have claimed that universities will charge £9,000-a-year only in ‘exceptional cases’. They even say some will charge less than £6,000. But the report, by respected think-tank the Higher Education Policy Institute, says: ‘Those institutions that are over-subscribed will charge £9,000 without hesitation. ‘Those that have struggled to recruit students will initially be more cautious, but, within a few years, we believe that almost all universities will charge the maximum £9,000 fee. ‘No doubt, as now, some further education colleges will charge less than the maximum, and so may a small number of higher education institutions, but our expectation is that the great majority of students will be charged the maximum.

‘The evidence from the U.S. suggests that a higher fee makes the institution more, rather than less, attractive.’ The report also suggests the ‘savings that will accrue to the Government will in reality be much lower than expected’. Today’s report follows David Cameron fanning the flames of student anger yesterday by admitting higher fees would subsidise charges for foreign students. Challenged by a Chinese student during his trip to the country, the Prime Minister revealed that the higher fees were partly designed to limit rises for international undergraduates who can pay around £20,000 a year.

By Laura Clark and James Chapman.


Daily Mail. (2010) 'Hijacking or a very middle class protest:Anarchists cause chaos as 50,000 students take to streets over fees.' Accessed February 17th 2011