US lessons and Laura Spence 1

August 13, 2004

You rightly say that British universities are competing with their US counterparts ("Global rivalry is good for students", Leader, August 6). But the contest is an unequal one. Harvard University's endowment dwarfs those of Oxford and Cambridge universities combined, and your lead story points out that Laura Spence's fees there were some $37,000 (£20,160) a year. With such a gigantic disparity in income, how are even the richest UK universities to pay for comparable facilities and staff?

Since significant increases in either government funding or endowments are not forthcoming, surely the only answer can be for British universities to charge the substantial fees necessary to compete.

University education is now a global market, so why not charge the fees that the global market will bear?

If Harvard can charge the sainted Laura Spence such enormous fees without a political outcry, why would it have been wrong for Oxford to have done so had she been admitted there?

Jonathan Morgan
Cambridge

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