Actually, only the cheapest course, mathematics, costs ?15,500. Other courses, because of the cost of labs, have much, much higher tuition fees, ranging from ?18,200 for physics, up to ?35,500 for 4th, 5th, and 6th year medics. See here for full details: http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/registry/finance/tuitionfees
Furthermore, Imperial charges some of the highest overseas fees in the country. Maths costs ?11,810 at UCL, ?13,900 at Bristol, and ?9,747 at Cambridge.
I agree with higher fees. Imperial is gearing itself for a future along side the large Ivy league universities in the US. I think 3000 GBP is far too low a fee for university. A student is likely to drink a large part of that value away in a single year at university, perhaps this will improve their appreciation of such an education.
Foreign students pay much higher fees - supposedly because they do not pay tax in the EU. Imperial is unlikely to grow in its size or student capacity. I agree making fees higher will improve the university as a whole. Supply and demand in action.
You just need to look at and compare the motivation of people to get into the Ivy league universities compared to the state universities in the US. How many people want to study at the private universities in contrast to the state ones.
Thanks for mentioning the teaching grant. The Rectors comments in the article imply a deficit between overseas and home students of ?12k. The difference 'should' be made up by the teaching grant.
The fact that the grant is insufficient is down to the government spreading he funds to thinly (in my opinion). Resulting in high achieving home students being penalised financially, whether that be through the debt they end up with, the costs their parents have to pay or simply by having to choose a cheaper university.
The grant only needs to make up the difference between the home fees and the full economic cost of the course (I don't know what level that is currently - Jenny or Hannah might know...)
International students pay more than the FEC and in effect subsidise the home students (international education is a proper market). This is why people are so worried about the 'credit crunch' reducing the number of international students coming to British universities - the government doesn't cover the full cost of teaching home students on our expensive science-based degrees, yet international students may disappear.