That is the view of the institution’s vice-chancellor Andrew Hamilton, whose comments in his annual oration today form the most significant public pressure for fees to be increased since the cap was raised to £9,000 in 2012.
He said that any future government should allow “significantly different” amounts to be charged by different universities.
Professor Hamilton argued that the £9,000 regime “doesn’t add up for Oxford, where the new regime of increased tuition charges for students, but greatly reduced government spending on teaching, have done little to change the basic financial equation.
“How can they when the real cost of an Oxford education is at least £16,000 per undergraduate every year?”
That created a funding gap “of over £70 million a year that Oxford has to plug”, Professor Hamilton said.
He continued: “It seems increasingly inevitable that government – any government in future – is going to have to evolve a more sophisticated and indeed variegated approach to the challenges of student funding.
“The idea of a market (and that is what is ostensibly being created) in which every item, virtually regardless of content and quality, is the same price seems, well, a little odd.
“On the other hand, given the great diversity of the institutions in our higher education system, the notion of different universities charging significantly different amounts, doesn’t feel inherently unnatural. It is the current situation that seems out of kilter.”
And Professor Hamilton added: “So a system of tuition charges more closely related to the true cost of the education provided, but with the strongest guarantees that price can be no impediment to talent and that loan repayment is pegged to financial capacity, is something that I believe in the longer run will have to be considered.”