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Tuition Fee Cap 'Intolerably Low'

Oct 08 2008 12:32
Andrew Holland
Lord Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University, has dubbed the current cap on tuition fees as 'intolerably low' and called for the cap to be removed.
Lord Patten, Chancellor of Oxford

Speaking at the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference annual meeting, the Chancellor of Oxford University called for the tuition fee cap to be removed entirely, dubbing the £3140 limit for home students "intolerably low". Lord Patten, who is most commonly known as the last British Governor of Hong Kong, accused the Government of interfering too much in university affairs, saying that universities are now treated as "social security offices" in an attempt to create social mobility.

Lord Patten admitted that any lifting of the fee cap would be politically difficult, but stressed that something had to be done if top British universities were to catch up financially with the Ivy League in the United States. It is thought to be unlikely that private donations will be able to cover the bill and an increase in taxpayers money is not popular. Lord Patten believes that the only viable option is to increase fees. He talked of the "mad world" in which parents were willing to pay over ten thousand pounds a year in school fees, but unwilling to pay more than three thousand in university fees.

This isn't a debate about lowering standards or asking universities to take less able students.
Secretary of State for Universities, Lord Denham

Recently, the Ivy League has started to attract more British undergraduates. The fees may be over £16,000 a year, but a household income of less than £30,000 gains a full scholarship and fees are on a sliding scale, even up to a household income of £90,000. Harvard's £17.6billion annual alumni endownments go a long way: it is more than the annual funding for all British universities combined.

Lord Pattens' comment has sparked an explosive political debate between Oxford and the Secretary of State for Universities, Lord Denham. Denham has accused Oxford of setting it's sights 'too low' in the attempt to widen participation and has 'profoundly disagreed' with comments made by the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and Head of Admissions. In a speech to an Aimhigher celebratory event Denham accused the Chancellor of being 'out moded' and stated:

"I think he is profoundly wrong. This isn't a debate about lowering standards or asking universities to take less able students. It's about the willingness to recognise that there is talent which isn't realised to the fullest extent and it's in universities' interest to find that talent."

With the gap in the University sector for controversial speakers, left after Sir Richard Sykes moved on from Imperial, Lord Patten has certainly stepped up to the mark with a certain amount of gusto.

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Discussion about “Tuition Fee Cap 'Intolerably Low'”

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.
1. urgh   
Oct 08 2008 13:55

what a knobber lord patten is, not everyone went to private school, most ppl cant afford 10k for school, let alone 3k for pooni.

2. si   
Oct 08 2008 18:28

heres an idea, scrap fees and at the same time scrap all the mickey mouse "universities" and as if by magic the universities offering degrees that are actually worth something can offer world class education funded on tax money, then only the most able get into uni irrelevant of their ability to pay

Oct 08 2008 19:04

Universities in Great Britain are very badly underfunded compared to our friends across the pond. I don't see why universities can't accept a few more thickies in exchange for large donations from their filthy rich parents. I've seen my fair share of people like this here whos parents, as far as I know, did not give a donation.

4. Ugh.   
Oct 08 2008 20:00

Seriously.... speach? Kirsty, get it right. Please. This is shameful every time.

Oct 08 2008 22:06

Why is Lord Patten striking a pose in that picture?

Oct 09 2008 10:18

@ Ugh.

Do you know what is actually shameful? The fact that everytime an article is published on Live! you desperately try to pick holes in it or the Editor. A simple typographic mistake does not warrant the self-righteous whinging that you always come out with.

Why not do something useful for a change and write a better article? Clearly you don't want to read anything I write (or apparently that my sub-editors write...) so do something about it. I don't necessarily want to be writing every single article on here. It takes up a lot of time and is always followed by snide or petty remarks.

Or you could continue to hide behind your pseudonym where noone actually takes you seriously.

7. Sigh   
Oct 09 2008 11:01

Come on Ed, is it really that difficult to spell check an article in Word before its published?!

Oct 09 2008 11:53

Actually I was going to leave a comment along the lines that this was a particularly well-written piece. Spelling mistakes shouldn't be there but otherwise I think some of the reporters have got a lot better in the past year.

9. Ha   
Oct 09 2008 15:00

I think tuition fees should be set at ?1Million per year per student. Then they university would have loads of money!

10. Editor   
Oct 09 2008 15:48

I shouldn't get dragged into this but yes... it is that difficult to spell check a document when you are using a brand new laptop that you bought in order to be able to edit Live! from home and haven't bought Office yet. Unfortunately Live!'s submission sheets don't have in built spell check. Plus one of the tips Ash gave me when he handed over was that writing straight into Live! is one quicker and two avoids getting silly quirks where commas don't display properly on the screens in the JCR (this does happen if you copy and paste from Word).

Oct 10 2008 11:32

Guys, give the ED a break! Honestly you lot winge and moan so much, why don't you just write 'better' articles then? Get Involved. Then you have more of a right to winge ;-)

Oct 10 2008 11:41


Use Firefox 3. You can add British English spell-checking, which will spell check your forms for you.

Oct 10 2008 11:46

Perverse though it may seem to many students, remember that we lose out through low tuition fees.


Let me explain. The university needs mo-ney to run. Lecturers don't work for free and computer labs don't spontaneously self-assemble. More money in the university will result in better facilities (and better faculties). So more money is good. Where's it going to come from? The government is not going to pony up (after all, we're not bankers), foreign students are already being screwed royally for cash and there are limits to corporate sponsorship for research that can't easily fund undergrads in particular. That leaves alumni donations and tuition fees. Either way it's coming out of our pockets.

God forbid I suggest we actually pay for the education we're receiving though.

14. Hah   
Oct 10 2008 13:25

I think we can all agree that patten is a giant, parabolic penis and that we're all glad none of us went to that shameful place known as Oxford.

And none of us are bitter.

Oct 10 2008 13:33

What an utter arrogant dog.

Oct 14 2008 11:48

Go Lord Pattern!

Grammar School Boy. I cannot agree with you more. Those who want to go to reputable unis for free and have no intention of giving anything (cash or otherwise), perhaps you should just go onto the street and beg... the two things are almost the same - ie getting something for nothing!

Oct 14 2008 11:59

Pattern = Patten

Yes, spell check can malfunction.

Oct 14 2008 11:59

Pattern = Patten

Yes, spell check can malfunction.

Oct 14 2008 11:59

Pattern = Patten

Yes, spell check can malfunction.

20. Hmm.   
Oct 14 2008 13:37

"no intention of giving anything (cash or otherwise)"

But what of those who have every intention of contributing as a general UK taxpayer after graduation?

And moreover, what of those who have every intention of contributing to the country's "knowledge economy" using their University training?

Maybe a degree in Beckham Studies doesn't contribute to much of a contribution and shouldn't be funded by taxpayers. Maybe science and engineering degrees do and should.

Oct 14 2008 19:40

@ Hmm.

I agree with your points. However, if the government has no intention in increasing funding to the university sector, your argument is surely flawed?

Furthermore, based on the current government policy and also that of the NUS, I don't think the government will divert sufficient extra cash to the "proper" degrees, which will effectively drive the economy.

If and only if your two suggestions come true, then I will agree you whole heartedly as I did with Grammar School Boy.

22. Hmm.   
Oct 15 2008 09:40

Exactly. It is those aspects of government policy that need changing, rather than the level of the tuition fee cap.

23. JJ   
Oct 16 2008 08:30

Raising the tuition fee cap shouldn't just be the default because the government are stubborn. We should always strive for the best option which may be a rise in fees/tax/both. The problem is the best proportion of fees:tax at a personal level changes depending on the extent of your education, so how do you find the best for the nation?

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