Hoary argument

December 31, 2009

Alan Ryan has got it completely wrong ("Offing the cap", 17/24 December). The idea of tuition fees was originally sold to us as a way of permitting 50 per cent of all pupils leaving secondary school to enter higher education; in other words, to use universities as a social equaliser. It was also meant to improve university finances. In all its objectives, the policy has failed. Why should we think that allowing higher tuition fees and playing in the free market will make things better? We need only look at the terrible state of US universities' finances and see how it has reduced working-class access to university. Ryan's column reminded me of those who 50 years ago advocated keeping means-tested entrance to secondary school with very similar arguments.

Jairo Lugo-Ocando, Department of film, media and journalism, University of Stirling.

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