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Higher tuition fees make sense—but universities are still in trouble

The hike in student fees will not disadvantage those from poorer backgrounds. But the government's other plans threaten to leave many 'new' universities seriously underfunded

By Philip Jones   December 2010

[Photo: BillyH]

As the vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University—one of Britain’s biggest “new” universities, with about 35,000 students, many from low income backgrounds—I was appalled when I first heard of the government proposals for higher education. While everyone had expected November’s Browne Review to lift tuition fees, insiders had assumed that the government would combine a cut of direct public funding of 25-35 per cent with a rise in fees to around £5,000-£6,000. This would have left the effect on university income broadly neutral. None of us expected the proposed cut of something like 80 per cent in the direct…

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