A rich situation

September 15, 2000

Tim Knox's editorial displayed nothing more than the tired old rhetoric of the political right (Opinion, THES, September 8).

Allowing universities to set their own fees will not increase "choice", it will create a perceived hierarchy of excellence into which only the rich can buy - everyone else will be forced to buy into what would no doubt become perceived as "bargain basement" degrees and institutions.

This would create a scenario where the rich (institutions and applicants) will prosper and the poor will flounder, with the devil taking the hindmost.

Rich universities (no prizes for guessing which they will be) will attract the public school-educated sons and daughters of the wealthy, and those from so far excluded backgrounds (to whom those of us at all interested in widening access are trying to reach out) will remain excluded.

Knox may think that this qualifies as progress. One hopes he is alone in this delusion.

Andrew Marks Research fellow in lifelong learning Stirling University

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