Having studies both at Imperial (2:1 MEng) and at an ex-poly (1st BA), my view of Imperial has been seriously adjusted at the other university. Yes, Imperial attracts the better students, has a better library and more brilliant researchers. It also has mostly p***-poor teaching and student support, and most people get a degree one band lower than they would at any other uni (most of my fellow graduates at the time remarked they would have preferred a 1st from a second tier uni to a 2:1 from IC).
Imperial's reputation as a place of education is not based on the quality of the teaching, but on the quality of its student intake. Hand the students a couple of textbooks and previous exam papers, and you'd watch them do just as well (or as poorly) as they do now.
So, the end result? Networking opportunities, a degree certificate with a high value brand and a nice location, versus poor teaching quality and support, and a likely lower degree classification. In a free market, I would not pay more for an Imperial degree. It has some brand value, but the product delivered is not, in the end, good value for more money.
"If you take the top five universities, they have enormous potential to earn income for Britain."
But surely they can already charge what they like to students from outside of Britain, what he proposes is 'making money' for private institutions FROM the people of Britain getting into even more debt- just what we need right now!
If the government stopped directing money to the polys and car manufactures at the behest of their Trades Union paymasters then the College would not be in this lose/lose situation. If they don't charge more the quantity and quality of undergraduate teaching will suffer and if they do there are serious questions about how students from average backgrounds can afford study here.
Well, I earnestly congratulate and respect the people who get a 1st at Imperial. They are exceptional, and in a league of their own. They are also the minority. (About 30%, right?) I am not sure equal opportunities employers are allowed to differentiate between degrees of the same classification and subject area from different universities though.
And if my 2:1 could have been a 1st at Leeds or Manchester or some other second tier uni (ex-polys are third tier in my book), then I would have rather had the 1st, thank you very much. Faced with a 60-70% probability of not getting a 1st at Imperial, and the knowledge / hindsight that teaching quality is mostly poor (with a handful of notable exceptions), it does not look like a sound investment, especially if it is significantly more expensive than other unis.
That said, I'm told the tutorial system in Oxbridge is genuinely helpful, supportive and high-quality, so without having first hand experience of it, I could imagine that they'd be able to offer the level of teaching and support I'd expect for the higher price that IC's rector is talking about. I'm pretty sure if privatisation of the top 5 unis did occur, the funding gap between Oxbridge and Imperial would widen hugely. It's a case of "be careful what you wish for". At the moment, Imperial gets to differentiate itself from most of the Russell Group. If fees were truly uncapped, I believe Imperial would not flourish / maintain its elite brand, but end up just one name among many Russel Group unis.
If unis were consumer brands, Imperial would move from the Harrods/Harvey Nichols sphere of top 5 down to the Debenhams/John Lewis of generic, solid, but unexceptional Russel Group (which is slightly ahead of the Marks & Sparks of most of the field, and the Aldi/Lidl of the ex-polys).
I think that is a bit unfair on Marks & Spencer's ;)
On an unrelated note... how blatantly photoshopped is the image heading this article? I doubt Roy was stood anywhere near the lion and either the Queen's Tower or Skempton are the only background options. Not trees...!