Oxford pro v-c 'interested' in truly variable fees

Sally Mapstone throws her weight behind calls to move beyond £9,000 fees cap

November 21, 2013

Another senior figure at the University of Oxford has backed the prospect of truly variable fees – a move that could lead to some institutions charging significantly more than the current £9,000 maximum.

Andrew Hamilton, the Oxford vice-chancellor, recently used his annual oration to urge a future government to allow “significantly different” amounts to be charged by different universities.

At a Sutton Trust event in London on 13 November, Sally Mapstone, pro vice-chancellor for education at Oxford, was asked whether the university would want to see a system of truly variable fees.

“We would be very interested in seeing the potential for a move to variable fees,” she told the event.

“But I think there are a couple of things that go with that. One is that price should never be an impediment to talent. They have got to be able to get in.

“The other is that when you look at the repayment mechanism, you’re looking very hard at income-contingent measures.”

On measures to improve access and encourage poor students to apply, Les Ebdon, director of fair access, had told the event: “The evidence we have [at the Office for Fair Access] is that [scholarships and bursaries] don’t make a difference to people’s decisions.”

However, Dr Mapstone recalled a visit “about a year ago” by Professor Ebdon to Oxford where students discussed bursaries with him.

“Our students said that they felt very strongly – particularly those who came from what you might call disadvantaged backgrounds – that bursaries actually made a really big difference,” she said.

She added that bursaries were key in “levelling up the differences between certain social groups”.

Sir Michael Barber, chief education adviser to Pearson and a member of the 2010 Browne Review, told the event that to reduce the fee cap and reintroduce direct public funding would be “a big waste of money”.

“The fee cap should probably be raised, because inflation is occurring in costs,” he added.

Sir Michael suggested that there should be thinking about “how you could get government capital money building an endowment fund…or a number of endowment funds that would get you towards a proper system of needs-blind admission”.

He suggested that funds received by the government from future privatisations could be used for this purpose.

john.morgan@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

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe 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