I have a problem. I really want to sign the anti-fees petition. However, I really can't bring myself to do it because I disagree with a lot of what I would be putting my name to.
"We believe that the introduction of top-up fees would reduce the number of able students from poorer backgrounds applying to the College..."
I don't believe this to be the case. Poorer students wouldn't have to pay fees so I don't see why they would stop coming here. It will be the middle class students that MAY be put off. However, as Imperial wouldn't introduce fees without similar action from other elite universities then I don't think that would stop people coming to Imperial. I think they would still come despite whatever hardship they may face due to massive debts in order to get a good education.
"...and would cause those who were better off to seek study elsewhere - at institutions with comparable fees but better facilities or network connections."
The whole idea of introducing fees is to improve facilities/opportunities. If the better off students were so concerned about this they would have already left. Furthermore, overseas students already pay over ?20,000. These fees haven't put them off. By improving the current situation I think you would encourage even more of these students to come here.
"We believe that the introduction of top-up fees would severely harm the reputation of the College, changing the public?s perception from it being an institution for the academic elite to one where a degree can simply be bought; a place where people are admitted not on the size of their intellect, but the size of their wallets."
If you look at the proposals then admission would be 'means-blind' meaning that college wouldn't know your background until they had offered you a place. If out of all the people that they accept there aren't enough of the 'rich' students to fund the 'poor' students then that is a completely different problem and should be explained as such. I also don't think that it would change the public's perception of Imperial. To reiterate - Imperial wouldn't introduce fees on their own. If all elite universities introduced fees it may change public opinion about higher education but in my opinion not against Imperial per se.
I have discussed this with many of my friends and it is not just me that is having this dilema. So please, please, please can we have a re-worded petition - one that is accurate so that we can be proud to put our name on it.
Yes they would. As I've explained before, it isn't just lack of money that affects people from a poorer background, its a lack of self-confidence as well. The thought of having to go to a fee-paying univerity - even though they don't have to pay - could be enough to put them off. It's an illogical thought process, but since when has self-confidence ever been about logic?
I am from one a poor background. The current fees almost put me off, even though I didn't have to pay them. Fees ten times as high could have been fatal. QED.
2. Middle class students may be put off, but richer ones won't.
I agree that middle class students, especially those whose parents fall just inside the arbitrary fees boundary, would be put off. But richer ones will be put off as well. At the moment, it makes good economic sense to stay at a British uni and spend ?4K rather than go elsewhere and pay a lot more. If you increase fees substantially, you remove this.
Plus, there's the time factor. It will take time for money from fees to be invested to improve the facilities and opportunities. In the mean time, why should richer people pay to come here when there are alternatives with the better facilities and opportunities in place now?
3. It won't harm the reputation of the College.
Of course it will. It already has suffered since the news broke - believe me, as someone who's spent the last few weeks looking for a job, I know. The subject of fees almost always comes up during interviews at the moment.
It doesn't matter how many times you tell people that the entry system will be 'means-blind', there will still be a large number of sceptics. A quick glance at some of the debates on this site should convince you of that.
OK, so Imperial won't introduce fees by itself. Likewise, it won't be the only university whose reputation suffers as a result. But Imperial's will continue to suffer - and possibly more than others, as top-up fees are already considered by some people as being Imperial's idea.
Having said that, I think that if people do disagree with top-up fees, but don't agree with the reasons I put on this petition, it would be a great idea if a second petition was launched to cater for them.