England: Browne recommends lifting the cap on fees

The review by Lord Browne’s group has now been published: the report, Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education in England, can be seen in full here.

The key recommendations of the report are:

• the current cap on tuition fees should be removed, so that universities would be entitled to charge whatever they think the market will bear;
• fees should not be payable at the time of university entry, but after graduation;
• fees should be payable when earnings reach £21,000;
• fees above £6,000 should be subject to a government levy to fund student finance;
• the taxpayer’s investment in higher education should remain at current levels;
• all students would have access to maintenance loans, and there would be a grant based on means-testing.

The report also contains a number of other recommendations not directly related to funding, some of which are highly interesting. More on this in another post later today.

It should be noted that the report refers to England only, and does not apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. However, its recommendations may have an indirect effect on these jurisdictions, and indeed the general recommendations and the arguments in support of them may be influential further afield, including Ireland.

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9 Comments on “England: Browne recommends lifting the cap on fees”

  1. John Says:

    The table on p.46 is insightful:

    1) The Exchequer is insulated irrespective of what institutions do with their fee level. The “balance of pain” is clearly borne by graduate payments.

    2) The 6k headline fee (full cost with no HEFCE grant) implies a reduction of 5 per cent in university income. At the very least universities will look to retain existing income levels, implying a minimum annual fee of 7k.

    3) Note the net benefit of the revised mechanism to students moves inversely with fees.

  2. Vincent Says:

    This will cause a dramatic reduction in the Arts subjects. Which will spin on itself with the total removal of subjects with a smaller cohort of students. Leaving only the Oxbridge colleges with the finance to treat with Philosophy, History, Classics &co.
    Such that very soon the only historians in England will be members of the Bullingdon with an income in shares and with a back garden useful for three-day-eventing.


  3. If you accept the premise that employers will scorn classics, philosophy and history graduates (and I don’t accept that at all) and they are doomed to unemployment, isn’t it fairer then to have a system that leaves those disciplines to people who have ‘income in shares’ and doesn’t lure the unwary to spent time and money on degrees that would (again, if you accept the premise)leave them penniless.

    And if you believe society doesn’t need these graduates in an economic sense and won’t employ them, why should we then pay to train them?

    If you believe that society needs some these people for other reasons (a reasonable belief), then let society (state or media) employ them. If you believe that we need our classicists and philosophers, and that they cannot find their way alone, then let’s give them jobs and respect, celebrate our philosophers as the French do.

    Personally, I reckon a good rigorous grounding in any discipline will pay it’s way in the job market over time, especially given that narrowly technical training is often obsolete before the ink is dry on the scroll.

  4. anna notaro Says:

    How long before Scotland will adopt university fees as well? Speaking of fairnes (one of yesterday’s topics) isn’it unfair that British students are treating differently when it comes to education depending on where they are born? Isn’t it educating the young generations a responsibility worth sharing among all the people who happen to live on the same island?

    • Iainmacl Says:

      No. It is not unfair, Ana. I’d argue it’s unfair that English students should, have fees forced upon them, but each country is getting what it voted for. And if you voted lib dem in England thinking that they’d stick to their pledges, well you haven’t paid much attention to how that party has operated in the places in which it has been in power!

      By the way it’s nothing to do with ‘where you are born’. It’s your place of residence and eu students don’t pay either. it’s the English system that has been out of step.

      of course the Scottish government is under huge pressure and under the complex, colonialist procedures for allocating funding to Scotland, then cuts at Westminster will be translated into cuts in the total budget available to the Scottish government. fiscal autonomy, whereby that government has control over the total budget/tax raised is the only fair and sensible system, but not likely that Westminster will permit it, particularly if it includes, as it should, oil revenues.

      • Iainmacl Says:

        Actually I had a couple of ‘smilies’ strategically placed in some of those paragraphs but they clearly didn’t make it through my little text cut and paste..oh well. I leave it as an intellectual exercise to work out which bits are ironic and which are not!

  5. anna notaro Says:

    perhaps it was the phrase ‘fiscal autonomy’? 🙂


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