Class, fees and sin 3

February 14, 2003

Debates about funding and widening participation are nothing new.

A 1229 recruiting leaflet from the "new" University of Toulouse offers prospective students the "plenary indulgence of all their sins".

Popularising the curriculum was also important - students were offered the chance to "scrutinise the bosom of Nature to the inmost, including the books of Aristotle forbidden at Paris", according to University Records and Life in the Middle Ages .

The leaflet evaded the fee question, but the university received a grant raised by taxing the city's prostitutes. This could be a useful alternative to today's proposed graduate tax, but it might put some British universities at an advantage.

Ormond Simpson
Open University

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