Hutton: cut fees to £3K for poorest

Students from poor families should pay tuition fees of only £3,000 a year, according to the chair of the Independent Commission on Fees

February 17, 2015

Will Hutton, an Observer columnist who is also principal of Hertford College, Oxford, said reducing the standard £9,000 undergraduate tuition fee by two-thirds to pre-2012 levels would significantly help to increase the number of poorer students at university.

Writing in his new book, How Good We Can Be: Ending the Mercenary Society and Building a Great Country, Hutton argues that “university access is improving, but only desperately slowly”.

“One obvious means to persuade kids from poorer homes to apply to university would be to universalise and standardise the patchwork quilt of access agreement rebates into a standard lower fee for disadvantaged applicants of, say, £3,000,” writes Mr Hutton in the book.

Mr Hutton is writing in a personal capacity, but has also led a Sutton Trust-backed commission looking into the impact of £9,000 tuition fees since 2012.

That commission has highlighted some of the negatives consequences of increasing fees three years ago, warning of the impacts on mature students and on working-class male students in particular.

In his new book, Mr Hutton also claims the introduction of £9,000 fees is likely to deter many students from applying to university in the near future, despite applications bouncing back strongly after a slump in 2012.

He says that students have not been put off because the prospect of repaying about £45,000 in debt “seems very distant in faraway adulthood”.

“The reality – a large debt, owed at high, real interest rates, which with the effect of compound interest will grow bewilderingly quickly – only sets in after university,” he says.

“As the experience bites, the news of the onerousness of the new system will start to spread.”

In his latest analysis of Britain’s “desperately unequal and unfair society”, Mr Hutton hits out at a “massive squandering of talent”, stating that 80,000 15-year-olds receive free school meals a year, but only 20 will go on to study at the University of Oxford.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Post-doctoral Research Associate in Chemistry

University Of Western Australia

PACE Data Support Officer

Macquarie University - Sydney Australia

Associate Lecturer in Nursing

Central Queensland University
See all jobs

Most Commented

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham