Vox pop

July 13, 2001

Is it good for higher education as a whole that Cambridge and Oxford are so much wealthier than other universities?


Tom Wilson , head of the universities' department at lecturers' union Natfhe

"It is obviously wrong that the wealth of the sector is concentrated in two universities.

"This underlies Natfhe's Fairer Funding campaign, which has been calling for more equal distribution of assets and funding. If it is right to means-test students on (parents') wealth, it must be equally right to means-test universities. Why are funding allocations to Oxbridge blind to their relative wealth?

"It makes it hard to win the case for more funding when politicians and the public see that some recipients are already comparatively wealthy. Poorer institutions are penalised."

The Higher Education Funding Council for England

"There is not a lot the higher education funding council can do about the historical imbalance in wealth. There are constraints on the way we distribute funds. We fund similar activities at similar rates and do not take into account wealth from other sources. Wealthy universities do have in-built advantages - they can borrow at more attractive interest rates, for example."

Universities UK

"Diversity of wealth is another dimension of autonomy. Even if all universities started from the same base today, different approaches to raising external funds would mean different levels of accumulated reserves.

"What is important is that the public funding streams are sufficient to support students and the university infrastructure."

David Triesman , general secretary of the Association of University Teachers

"Universities are rather like pensions, the longer they have been going the wealthier they are. What is important is that universities such as Oxford and Cambridge ensure that they are accessible to all students. They should target inner-city schools and bright pupils as young as 12 or 13 to make them realise that they could go to Oxbridge."

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