Let's not do this again in a year or two, Browne says

March 24, 2011

Lord Browne of Madingley would feel "sad as a citizen" if the higher education system needed changing again in two or three years because it was deemed unsustainable.

The author of last year's landmark review of higher education funding told a cross-party panel of MPs that the system he proposed had been designed to be cost-effective for the public purse, and it remained to be seen if the government's policy would achieve that goal.

Lord Browne, who appeared before the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee on 22 March, said he would wait for the forthcoming White Paper on higher education before making a judgement on the coalition's response to his recommendations.

But he added: "It is not right to have a system that can work for a couple of years and then we (have to) do it all over again.

"I would be sad, as a citizen, to see a system that was not sustainable for the future."

The peer, who was appearing before the committee's first evidence session in its wide-ranging inquiry into the government's higher education policy, also said that a tuition- fee cap meant that universities tended to migrate towards that level.

So far, almost all of the universities that have publicly announced their fee levels for 2012 plan to charge £9,000 a year.

The Browne Review had proposed that there should be no hard cap on fees, with prices instead controlled by an increasing levy on institutions charging above £6,000 a year.

"By having a cap, most people would agree that people tend to migrate towards it. If you do not have a cap, it is a very different decision-making process," the peer said.

Lord Browne was also pressed on claims, first reported by Times Higher Education, that the review "underspent" on research, with the majority of funding going towards a single opinion survey.

He said that the review would not have spent more, even if it had been aware more money was available, and had relied on a lot of secondary research as it seemed to be an efficient use of public resources.

simon.baker@tsleducation.com.

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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy