How to further a fair fees future 2

December 5, 2003

It is claimed that top-up fees/graduate taxes will encourage Scotland's academics to migrate to England for better pay and conditions and encourage England's students to migrate to Scotland for cheaper education ("'Blundering' reforms will blight Scots universities", THES , November 28). University funding may be an obscure science, but how will English-based academics be paid more if they have fewer students to teach? And surely students will figure out that their fees are subsidising loss-making subjects and institutions, and vote with their feet? Top-up fees might not even cover the income lost. The cap on student numbers is the main threat to Scotland's students of an influx of England's students.

Remove that distortion and the market will adjust.

The only other change required concerns the four-year Scottish honours degree. The extra first year is based on the fact that students leave school earlier with Highers, which sit somewhere between the English GCSE and AS level. Why not let England's students with A levels and Scotland's students with Advanced Highers enter the second year of a Scottish honours degree? This would make Advanced Highers more attractive to Scottish-based students, lessen the debt burden of the Scottish honours degree and reduce the numbers who leave higher education after three years with an ordinary degree of uncertain value.

Jeremy Valentine
Queen Margaret University College
Edinburgh

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