The £5,000-a-year figure bandied about for tuition fees in the UK does not bear scrutiny.
The private University of Buckingham charges £1,800 a term - £5,400 for a three-term year. It gets no public funds, so this sum accurately indicates economic cost. It follows that with a £5,000 fee in a public university, the state would need to provide only £400 funding for each place.
Students paying £5,000 would be subsidising poorer students, more expensive departments or research funding. This is particularly true in arts faculties, where staff-student contact is 12-14 hours a week, compared with 26 for science, engineering and architecture. In fact, for £5,400 a year, the middle classes could have private universities as general provision.
H. C. S. Ferguson