Price deterrent

October 3, 1997

Huw Richards reports from the fringe meetings at the Labour party conference in Brighton

Between 40,000 and 50,000 potential undergraduates are likely to be deterred from seeking university places next year if the government's tuition fee and maintenance grant reforms go ahead, a vice chancellor warned this week.

Brian Roper, vice chancellor of the University of London, made the prediction at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting in Brighton. Professor Roper, an economist, said afterwards that his estimate was based on an analysis of the likely price elasticity of demand for student places. He said the decisive element was not the actual cost of taking up a place, but perceptions of it.

"The government has to ask if there is any good or service for which you can increase demand by upping the apparent price. Economists call them Giffen goods, but they don't exist much in real life," Professor Roper said.

He predicts that the first institutions to suffer from falling demand will be those, like his own, with a high proportion of mature, working-class and ethnic minority students. But the real, medium-term victims as costs rise and students increasingly choose to study closer to home, will be older greenfield universities isolated from the main urban areas.

MP Ken Livingstone said he thought his open opposition to funding changes had contributed to his election to Labour's National Executive Committee ahead of leadership choice Peter Mandelson. He said higher education's cash dilemma could be solved if the government raised taxes.

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 6 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

Assistant Dean (International) UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND - PAISLEY CAMPUS
Assistant Dean (Research & Enterprise) UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND
Professor of New Media UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND
Professor of Sport UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND
Professor of Strategic Management UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND - PAISLEY CAMPUS

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman

Nosey man outside window

Head of UK admissions service Mary Curnock Cook addresses concerns that universities might ‘not hear a word’ from applicants