Willetts, you were warned

August 11, 2011

The University and College Union and student leaders have warned from the outset that tripling tuition fees would deter people, especially those from poorer backgrounds, from applying to university ("Sector braces for fall in numbers", 4 August).

This government's untested university funding plans are a recipe for disaster and will lead to people making important life choices on the basis of their ability to pay rather than their ability to learn.

Erecting punitive financial barriers is not the way to attract the best and the brightest and is bad for the health of the academic sector.

It does not take a genius to work out that if 2 per cent less people apply to university, this will lead to significant funding gaps for institutions at a time when teaching budgets have been slashed by 80 per cent. This highlights the folly of making university finance dependent on students while simultaneously raising the cost of study.

Unless the government heeds these warnings and changes tack, the UK's ability to compete as a major player in the global knowledge economy will be severely compromised.

Terry Hoad, President, University and College Union

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