Full-cost fees are not fair 1

October 2, 2008

George Psacharopoulos states that institutions should charge full-cost fees up to and beyond the £20,000-plus that the University of Oxford has been saying for some time it needs to cover its annual undergraduate teaching costs ("What price a fair system? Full tuition fees for students", 25 September).

This would "free them from the state", he says. Those universities that could afford it would privatise themselves. Meanwhile, he suggests, they could use public money to provide bursaries for able students who could not afford tuition costs.

But of course, this would make them dependent on the state for their bursary students and would act as a disincentive to taking them. Hardly the fair system your headline suggests.

Rather, raising fees further would render transparent and continuous the current indirect link between economic capital and the cultural capital that those who can afford to pay for it acquire in the private and semi-private state schools and those universities and subjects that charge the highest fees.

Martin Allen and I outline the effects of such a system on schools, colleges and universities in our pamphlet on vocational diplomas from www.radicaled.wordpress.com.

Patrick Ainley, University of Greenwich.

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