The human wrecking ball David Willetts is lobbying for universities to “buy” student loan debt (“Willetts’ loan book plan: capital idea or half-baked notion?”, News, 7 August) and wants the universities of Oxford and Cambridge to pilot an undergraduate fee hike to £16,000 a year. This is surely another step towards the privatisation of the top-table universities, finally putting a Russell Group degree beyond the reach of all but privately educated and overseas entrants.
The effect of burdening students and universities with eye-watering debt will not only increase the gulf between “elite” institutions and their lower-table counterparts, it will also increase the internal divisions in resources and academic standing between the richer and poorer Oxbridge colleges. Many of the post-war and graduate colleges have struggled in the shadow of their wealthy cousins. They may as well shut up shop for good once the likes of Trinity College, Cambridge and Christ Church, Oxford become little more than private finishing schools for those with more money than sense.