Market fundamentals 1

March 19, 2004

We need to think carefully about how financial assistance is employed. Fiona Devine (Soapbox, March 12) has the right thrust, but is in danger of choosing the wrong blade.

The University of the West of England has been piloting bursaries for low-income students for four years. Our research suggests some of the most needy students never get the support they need. Pride, cultural norms and information overload mean that many don't even apply.

The American model of scholarships will lead British higher education down the same cul-de-sac of complexity and competition. Only a universal system of maintenance support will serve low-income students well.

Neil Harrison
University of the West of England

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