Fee foes smell blood

August 1, 1997

Hopefully, your front-page summary does not do justice to the arguments and intention of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Brunel.

The proposition that the effect of fees would be minimal on the class composition of universities because the bias is fixed when children are seven rather than 17 years old, is depressingly narrow. "Not many apply, therefore not many will be discouraged" says little about the disincentive of fees. We would not want to wait for changes at primary-school level to break the stranglehold of the professional classes on universities.

Most students already pay fees and do not have the option of studying full-time. It is the needs of these students that should be at the centre of discussions about access. If the Dearing report serves to perpetuate the traditional view of universities as a form of "finishing school" then all it will have done is to help the Government reduce the impact on public sector borrowing of subsiding higher education for the better off.

Andy Ross

Stanstead Abbots Hertfordshire

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