Oxford v-c says fees should better reflect its ‘16K costs’

The real cost of a University of Oxford education is £16,000 a year and the fees system should be better related to such an amount.

October 8, 2013

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.”  


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Reader's comments (1)

In other words, "let's have the same system as the U.S." Unfortunately, if the U.S. situation has proved anything, it's that THIS DOES NOT WORK. If the govt. continues to cut funding to UK HE, and they are forced to go this route, the inevitable result is that a first-rate education will only be available to the wealthy (regardless of "talent") and everyone else will have to make do with overworked and underpaid instructors in large modules with little support. This will not be the fault of Oxford or the Russell Group, as they are just trying to find ways to keep their institutions afloat. This is the Conservatives, through and through, who may make much noise about Widening Participation, but ultimately care only about the wealthy and upper-middle-class, and would happily see the vast majority of working Britons get completely screwed out of a decent education. Ironically, in seeking to foster "growth," "competition," and "excellence," this will only produce stagnation, decline, and mediocrity, just as it has in the U.S. There, a very small number of universities provide outstanding education to the elite, and the vast majority graduate functional illiterates (I know, as I have taught in several). How many times does the same lesson need to be learned? Scandinavian countries have high taxation, excellent education for all, and a fair distribution of resources. Result=a happy, healthy, productive populace and a stable economy. The U.S. has low taxation, lousy public education, and concentration of wealth. Result= luxury for the few and misery, poverty, and the everyday threat of violence for the many (including university students), as well as periodic recessions and depressions. When will the Conservatives and UK voters learn from the lessons that are staring them in the face every day? Never, apparently.