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Imperial approves top-up fees

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Oct 18 2002 15:09

After nearly five hours of heated discussion the Rector?s paper goes through with one amendment.

1. angry   
Oct 18 2002 15:48

What a disgrace!!

I hope this college gets what it deserves. The principle of free higher education to maintain the high educational standard of this country is a noble one. This is why we all protested. Regardless of background and financial status, every student in this country should have access to an equal and fair education system.

I appreciate that universities need to be funded and that nothing comes for free. But taking money from students, coming straight from school is simply the easiest way out of the funding issue. And it is the most dishonest and dirty!

There are other ways of funding a university, and what is needed is imagination, not charges on students.

Top-up fees will turn student life from a privilege for those who are willing to work hard (regardless of background) into a commercial operation.

And when that happens....nothing will ever be the same.

Let me ask you all...

would you be happy with the service you receive from imperial collge if you were investing ?10.5k of money you don't even have, every year.

Oct 18 2002 16:08

No, I wouldn't mr/miss angry. I wouldn't be happy at all.

I can't believe council thinks top up fees is a way forward, when in reality it is just a step backwards.

Oct 18 2002 16:08

Dick has really fu*ked up IC now. I hope he's happy that he's ruined the college's reputation!

Oct 18 2002 16:41

Sorry to disagree here, but I think that these fees are inevitable, long term at least even if by chance they are put off in the short term.

It's not as if the degree is free anyway, is it, would you prefer large tax hikes to fund universities? Which would only be paid by the better off in society anyway, and would be paid by those who received no direct benefit out of the education.

The problem only really comes with poor assessment, such as people with reasonable incomes but large mortgages who can't afford to pay and therefore the students would have to stump up the money. Something certainly has to be done to solve this issue.

On a service note though, I wouldn't be impressed, improvements would have to be maid with the money before I'd be happy paying it.

Maybe suggesting the cleaners in the computing labs do something useful instead of polishing the floors every morning. They could be trained to repaint the walls!

Oct 18 2002 17:55

I'm, sorry Lee, I'm afraid I have to disagree to your point.

Speak to ANYONE, fellow students, some friends (if you have any left after posting this message)... ANYONE!!!!!

How the hell can the average student aford 15 grand a year. Most of us are struggling to pay ?1,100pa!

Considering all students, but medical students especially, who will generally be in public sector work all thier lives, will amass debts of up to ?120,000. Thats a pretty good mortgage on a first house!!!!!!!!!!

The rector's proposals are ludicrous. I they go ahead, Imperial will lose the one thing that gives it its prestige, ABLE students from ALL backgrounds.

There is not enough money in the pot to cover bursaries, and no matter how admissions are regulated, the middle tier of students (into which the majority of us fall) will be the most affected/ excluded! Numbers will have to be made up by second rate applicants on the sheer merit that they can afford it!!!!

It annoys me that the rector is going back on his word and even considering this course of action. He is certainly not acting in the best interests of the students, the very people that make Imperial College what it is.

Joseph Mulae,

1st Yr Medicine UG

Imperial College London

Oct 18 2002 19:34

Anyone got any ideas about other ways to raise an extra ?30m a year?

It's all very well protesting and moaning - how about finding a better solution?

How much would the Sabbs raise if we sold them for medical research in the US?

Oct 18 2002 21:33

Have you looked at the Cubie Report

8. Seb   
Oct 18 2002 22:24

Top up fees are a bad idea.

Sure, there is a finance gap, but there are other ways of meeting it such as those used in Scotland.

Even if the rector belives in a global market of higher education, he is off his HEAD if he belives Imperial can compete in it in the way he seems to envision.

The idea under the top up fees is that the "haves" pay for the "have-nots". Now firstly I?d like to say that this isn't strictly true. "Rich" students are not in fact rich: Their parents are rich.

Now I guess I qualify as a "have", my parents paid for me to go to a top private school.

Most of my contemporaries made serious thought about going to an American Ivy league university. Yale, Harvard and MIT sent recruitment agents over here to do interviews with several of them. At A-level age, English students slightly outclass the level of US high school education it would appear, though they catch up within the first year of university.

The only thing stopping them studying abroad has been the cost of attending an American university. Studying abroad has several advantages, the main two being:

1. MIT, Yale, Harvard offer superior networking opportunities, which will be ever more important as Americas global political, financial and business power increase (and it is increasing)

2. There is a "glamour" attached to studying abroad. Hell, we are talking about the class of people that go off and spend gap years travelling the world on their parents credit card.

By charging the so called "haves", rather than being able to compete with American universities, we are actually going to move into direct competition whereas previously we have been sheltered from the global market by an essentially protectionist government subsidy.

In short: We will not have these rich haves anymore. Given a choice between paying an extra grand a year for going to an American university with it's superior networking, kudos, the glamour of a four years abroad "broadening" horizons and of course, the better conditions, amenities offered to undergrads in America, and of course, relatively speaking lower academic entry requirements, or going to Imperial, which would you choose?

MIT every time!

The only draw back is that the legal drinking age is 21 rather than 18. I would rather trust 28k of government subsidy to keep people here.

We cannot use the "top up fee" model to solve the finance crisis until we have sufficient funds to compete with American universities on an even playing field when it comes to quality.

Therefore we would be better off with a graduate tax that goes to building endowment funds as Scotland has implemented.

Oct 18 2002 22:44

There is a easier solution to this problem. All non-UK students, including EU students should be charged full tuition. There are at least 1200 EU students, more than

400 just from Greece, who pay home rate, but their parents don't contribute a single penny to UK government coffers. They are not likely to pay ever any tax.

1200x9000pounds=11m pounds, almost rector's 17m pounds are there. Just a thought.

10. Seb   
Oct 18 2002 23:09

Yeah, you could charge EU students full fees but then the situation would revert to the situation we have with America:

"Yeah, I'd like to go to Imperial but it's not worth it for ?9000."

On top of that it would break our relations with the other top two European science universities, and completely screw up our Erasmus programme.

For Physics in particular, it would be a disaster: with the price of kit to do fundemental physics what it is, we are reliant on international groups.

Oct 19 2002 00:07

All EU students are treated as 'home' students in all EU countries.

Which is why you can go to study in France or Germany and will get generous grants instead of being lumbered with fees.

12. mark   
Oct 19 2002 01:36

My partner has just returned from Imperial for the weekend, and i'm apalled...

How does this square with the psuh for 'Widening Participation' and the finding of such weighty papers as the Follet Report ?

This is unbelieveable.

13. idris   
Oct 19 2002 06:06

A couple of people have asked above why general taxation is necessarily a fairer way of funding university education than direct fees with means-tested exemption.

The answer is simple: under general taxation criteria are applied nation-wide and are determined by a group of people why you can vote out of office. Under the sceheme proposed for IC, menas-testing and allocation of support would be done by (guess who) IC. In other words, IC can hand-pick who to give scholarships to, on the basis of criteria which presumably won't be published. Oh yes and just to make the whole thing more corruptable, at least 30% of students have to pay full fees otherwise the maths doesn't work.

Hmmmmm... objective asessment? I think not.

Oct 19 2002 10:22

He is a power hungry madman. This is him building an empire. He was educated in a time where he and all of the people making the decisions didn't have to bear these burdens. They have now been elevated to some higher social class and wish that no one else should join them at their lofty positions. I don't want to sound like a class warrior, but think about it. I've done my first degree and am now a first year medic at UCL. If this was in place five years ago, there is no way that my family could afford to send me to university. It's not their fault. They are not bad people. My dad didn't choose to be disabled. Nobody does. We have to stand up and be counted. I here that this may not effect the graduates in my year, I still say be counted. Otherwise, you are just as guilty as the people making the decisions.

Oct 19 2002 10:51

OK, so the silent protest didn't work. If this is a row over finances, maybe the best thing to do would be to hit the College in the wallet. Boycott the JCR, the MDH, Southside shop, the BMS shop, the sports centre and any other services where the College tries to make money out of the students. Then, when the college realises its losing (even more) money on these, it might just sit up and take notice.

It's not as if that aren't better and cheaper alternatives to most of these services anyway.

If that fails, you could always take a leaf out of Manchester's book and occupy the Sherfield Building.

Oct 19 2002 11:20

And while you're at it, sign this petition:

Oct 19 2002 13:31

I have thought of another point that I don't know if anyone's picked up on yet. I don't pay the ?1,000 fees, thankfully my parents pay them for me. I feel pretty bad about this as it is, I don't think they should be responsible for me at the age of 21! When you apply for student support, the only way you can say that you are independant from your parents is if you've not been living with them for (I think it's) 3 years! So for most of us, our parents are legally responsible for providing the tuition fees (taking into account any support given by your LEA). If Sykes can't even consult with us, he certainly won't be consulting with any parents - who are in many cases the ones who this cost will apply to.

Whatsmore I don't know whether I would choose Imperial if I knew it was going to cost my parents up to ?15,000 a year - whether they could afford it (they can't) or not. Also, whether the application process will be "blind" or not, there will be a hell of a lot of people that would be too scared of the fees to even apply. Especially the people in the middle who would be very uncertain as to whether they would get a bursarie or not.

If this does go ahead, it will be having a huge effect on people who do not get any personal benefit from the money, and who I don't believe should have any financial obligation to me.

On the subject of how to stop it, I will be willing to do pretty much anything! Great ideas from someone to boycott all the college shops (JCR etc..). Also why don't the Union persuade teh Alumni to halt all their contributions - I don't suppose they liek this idea. We just have to stop this guys for the sake of the people just a few years younger and of our principles. If our campaigns have no effect we will have to move onto something bigger and stronger - even if it means seiging his house!!!

Oct 19 2002 14:10

As was expected I got briefly flamed. My point though was not so much that I suppose this only (though it may have read like that) but soemthing along these lines is inevitable.

Personally I'm slightly more for long term cheap loans so the students rather than their parents pay... which could be lower for each student as each would pay (like student loans but dedicated, maybe, someone suggested this somewhere around here) or something along those lines. Certainly students can't be expected to pay while at college, I only live at home precisely because it was the only way I could sensibly afford it (so I do understand that students couldn't afford to pay.

I do have to make the small point that the average student isn't to be expected to pay ?15,000 a year, only those whose parents can afford it (which seems unfair, admittedly). The rector's just working on the principle that there are enough people at imperial whose parents could afford it, which is probably true in the strictest sense.

Oct 20 2002 20:03

There are home students at Imperial who could afford to pay more, maybe even up to ?15,000 a year - although I should probably state that their parents could afford to pay more. A significant proportion of people here can afford to stick their student loan in the bank whilst they study and then have a nice lump sum at the end of their degree. This shouldn't be allowed to happen - why shouldn't this money be used to help students who genuinely have a difficult time surviving in London? Look around campus - you'll see a fairly well heeled bunch of people, with expensive bits and pieces like PDA's, the latest mobile phone and MP3 players fairly common.

People posting here are most likely the ones finding it difficult to survive - hence their outrage. Education is not a right, it is a priviledge, and if people can afford to pay for it, they should. Where it will all go horribly wrong is deciding who can afford to pay - I don't think we can trust college or the government to re-allocate any income from fees in a fair manner to the people who need it most - the students.

20. seb   
Oct 20 2002 21:09


I think you are being rather short sighted.

50K is a lot of money. There may be people that can afford to pay this, but they are the very rich and probably make up only a few percent rather than 10%, people who's parents are company directors perhaps.

I come into the upper middle class bracket: Both my parents were senior lawyers for big corporations, and I benefited from a private education. However, they could not afford on top of the god knows how many thousands of pounds they already paid for my education to fork out another 50K on top of that. Bare in mind there will be in most cases more than one son/daughter to be put through education.

Just because people are smartly dressed in designer labels and have a PDA, that does not in fact mean they can afford 50K when they are often about to retire!

The folly of the rectors proposal is that the entire finance system will absolutely rely on the fact that these people can and will be willing to pay. Frankly, I would prefer to go to an American university like MIT if there is no money difference, and I suspect most people would too: the conditions are much better for undergraduates there than here, as much as I love IC and London, and on top of that the MIT brand is bigger than Imperials.

Education is a privilege not a right, but it ought to be a privilege on academic merit, not how much cash you have available by way of your parents. The rector?s proposal absolutely relies on 30% of the intake being able to pay for the funding gap on the other 70%. The only way I can see to ensure this is if 30% of the places are reserved for "the best of the rich" rather than the best of the best. Personally I feel that it is deeply iniquitous that my parent should have to pay for my education and on top of that, the education of others who may then go on to earn as much or more than they did. It should be the beneficiaries of this that pay: The graduate according to his future earnings, the company that employs him and gains the benefit of his skills and to some extent, the country as a whole which benefits from the skills base preserved by a good education. I would be far happier if I could pay for my education without having to take on a debt that will render me a credit risk for any further debt (like a mortgage), and the best way to solve this is to have graduates pay for their education retrospectively by way of a graduate tax, rather than demanding their parents buy their education, which is far more likely to lead to a society where people can "buy" their degrees rather than earn them.

Lets not have a class war on this issue! People can only play the hand they are dealt. Nor is it sensible to expose the UK to a global market on undergraduate degrees in which we cannot compete because our competitors have a three hundred year head start in accumulating endowment fees to pay for a better service.

Oct 20 2002 23:52

Hey, didn't you guys realised that with those incomes the colleges will be able to set up a scholarship scheme to help those poor students, who would overwise struggle to pay 1000 per year! You coudl well be the one to benefit from the plan.

Let the rich people pay for us...

Oct 21 2002 08:02

I'm appalled. Not only is it an unjust change to an unjust system, but I agree with the earlier poster's assertion that it won't work: students from backgrounds who really can afford this sort of money, will go off to Harvard and/or MIT instead. I was lucky enough to do my undergraduate work at IC just before student grants were phased out, and qualified for almost complete government support (my parents are not at all wealthy); there is no way I would have been able to contemplate taking on board that much debt to go to IC, nor would anyone have been dumb enough to advance me the money. Yes, IC can say nice things about need-blind admission, but I also spent three years at MIT (AS a member of staff), and I have to say, that doesn't work particularly well.

I would really love to know the identity of the single member of council who voted against the proposal, that I might write to him or her to express my gratitude.

Oct 21 2002 10:37

I would guess it was the Union President, the only voting student member of College Council...

Oct 21 2002 11:23

One really hopes that President Genesh was the one who voted against....

... That is what council had told him to do afterall...

Oct 21 2002 19:05

Well, London Student said it was Sen, and presumably they did their research...

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