Lurking in the background

March 5, 2015

In his letter “No tuition fees on principle” (26 February), Jack Douglas makes a logical error that does not help his case.

If university students are funded by loans repayable by those individuals from their future income after graduation, what relevance do the less-privileged backgrounds of some students (reflecting the past circumstances of their parents) have to the argument over tuition fees given that nothing has to be paid up front whatever one’s family’s financial situation? How does this state of affairs price the poorest students out of higher education? Does the evidence from recent cohorts support such a view? It certainly does not.

This is quite distinct from the argument as to whether tuition fees are justifiable on moral or economic grounds on the one hand, or whether being responsible for their own fees motivates undergraduates to focus more on their studies on the other. What evidence is available to help in resolving this conundrum?

Richard M. S. Wilson
Emeritus professor of business administration and financial management
Loughborough University

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