Raise top-up cap, think-tank urges

December 22, 2006

The £3,000 cap on tuition fees should be raised, according to a think-tank, which this week reported that funding arrangements for English universities are "among the most progressive in the world", writes Claire Sanders.

In its submission to the Education Select Committee's review of the sustainability of the sector, the Higher Education Policy Institute says:

"It took political courage to introduce the current arrangements and, by and large, the structures are now in place on which to build."

It argues that while the £3,000 fee makes a significant difference to university funding, it should nevertheless be raised.

"It still leaves some universities far short of what they believe they need to earn in order to compete with the very best universities in the world (mainly American) in terms of the salaries they offer and the facilities they can provide," Hepi says.

The submission describes current arrangements as progressive because they place responsibility for repayment squarely with beneficiaries - students; ensure there is no upfront payment; make repayment income-contingent; ensure generous grants; and subsidise the loans.

* Graduates face the prospect of low salaries, rising property costs and a widening gender pay gap, according to a survey.

The study into the value of a degree in the workplace, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, found that starting salaries rose by 8 per cent between 2000 and 2005 to a mean of £21,074 for men and £18,093 for women.

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