Browne Review - University Response
Professor Sir Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor, has welcomed Lord Browne’s review as vital for maintaining Britain’s world-class higher education system.
But Professor Burgess warned that raising university tuition fees should not mean fewer people from working class families entering higher education.
The recommendations of Lord Browne’s review of higher education funding, published today, should be acted upon in such a way as to increase choice and opportunities for students from all backgrounds rather than restrict them, said Sir Bob .
Lifting the current £3,290 per year cap on fees must be accompanied by the introduction of a comprehensive and clear system of student support - bursaries, scholarships and loans - so that no-one with the academic ability to benefit from higher education is prevented from entering university for financial reasons, he added. The proposals to raise the salary level at which repayments of student loans begin to £21,000 is also welcome.
Leicester has a particular interest in the impact of raising tuition fees as it is the most inclusive of Britain's top-20 leading universities with the greatest proportions of students from under-represented groups.
Sir Bob’s comments follow the findings of research conducted by the University of Leicester and OpinionPanel showing that while the vast majority of prospective students would still seek to enter higher education, even if fees are significantly increased, those from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be deterred.
He said: “The current economic crisis and its impact on higher education has created a situation where higher tuition fees are unavoidable if we are to invest in our world-leading universities. However, it would be counterproductive and inequitable to suddenly abandon our commitment to widening access to higher education and lose all the progress we have made over the past decade.
“The Government’s commitment to building a fairer Britain should be clearly signaled by measures to protect those who are financially disadvantaged from being unable to access higher education. This will be key to avoiding the creation of a two-tier higher education system in which the research-intensive universities become even more exclusive. What we must strive for is a higher education system that is elite without being elitist – that is why the principle of protecting widening participation to the top institutions is vital.
“Now we know Lord Browne’s recommendations, both universities and students will hope to see the development of arrangements for fees, financial support and university funding, so that higher education can continue to play its vital role in the country’s economic recovery.”
The University of Leicester’s research also found that prospective students are willing to pay more to study at the most prestigious universities, and for courses in subjects where job prospects are better.