English Universities to become a Privilege for the Rich

Having seen a report on this on BBC Breakfast this morning, I had to look up the article and share it with you. According to the BBC:

Universities in England may be permitted to make extra places available for wealthy British students, under government proposals.

They would be charged as much as those from outside the European Union (EU).

Ministers say the proposal would free up publicly subsidised university places for poorer students.

Under the current system, the government sets a quota for the number of places English universities are allowed to offer each year.

From September 2012, universities in England will be allowed to raise tuition fees to up to £9,000 per year.

It marks an increase in the cap from the current level of £3,290.

Universities wanting to charge more than £6,000 will have to undertake measures such as offering bursaries, summer schools and outreach programmes, to encourage students from poorer backgrounds to apply.

The policy was developed as the government’s response to a review of higher education funding by former BP chief Lord Browne.

Students from outside the EU pay higher fees and are not eligible for any grants or loans.

Under the latest proposals, wealthy students could pay higher fees for an extra place at the university of their choice as long as they meet entry requirements.

The move would enable the most popular universities to expand.

Universities Minister David Willetts said he wanted the government’s forthcoming white paper on university funding to liberalise the system.

BBC Education correspondent Gillian Hargreaves said the proposals “would be controversial”.

“Critics would argue the wealthiest families would be able to buy a place on a degree course,” she said.

This is absolutely disgusting. Universities are supposed to be centres for academic excellence. Whilst I definitely agree with the ‘critics’ cited at the end of this article (that these proposals will lead to the wealthy being able to buy their university degree), I also have another, much more pressing criticism.

Universities aren’t just magically going to be able to take on more students. If student places are being taken up by those who can afford to pay extortionate rates, then the number of places for ‘normal’ and ‘poorer’ people will decrease. Which people do you think universities will prefer to take on? Those who can afford to pay massive amounts’? Or those who they will have to provide bursaries and scholarships for?

I know the government will say that they will set quotas etc and ensure that this doesn’t happen… but since everything they have said so far has turned out to be so misleading – ‘we won’t raise tuition fees’… ‘okay we will, but only for a small minority of universities and courses’… ‘we’ll raise fees across the board. Hey, it’s a difficult economic time’ – this does not seem like such an unlikely scenario after all…

Rant over.

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About Chris

Scholar of religion/nonreligion... PhD Student (Lancaster University), blogger, singer, actor, thinker... Northern Irish living in Scotland. Co-founder of The Religious Studies Project. Director at the NSRN. Baritone masquerading as a tenor. Vegetarian for no particular reason.

One response to “English Universities to become a Privilege for the Rich”

  1. Ned Auckland says :

    I share your worry.

    The question is this: if there is physical space that Universities are able to free up for these ‘extra’ students, why should that space not instead be offered to regular, non-rich students? The only justification I can imagine would be if the extra money from the rich kids somehow was the sole enabling condition for more space being available…

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