As universities wait to hear if the government is going to slash tuition fees – and thus their income – in a bid to win young voters, the rumour rippling through our esteemed seats of learning is that, if this goes ahead, Oxford and Cambridge will opt out and go private. Stephen Spriggs writes in FE News
Whether this is a good thing or not depends on which side of the fence you’re sitting but for Oxbridge to maintain their status as world-class institutions, something has to change.
Tuition fees are currently capped at £9,250 a year. However, a spokesperson for Cambridge University told The Guardian that each of their students costs £18,500 a year. You don’t have to be a Maths graduate to know those figures don’t add up. Oxbridge attract quality teachers, globally-renowned visiting lecturers and specialise in tutorial-led teaching.
But there are concerns. Stepping out into the private sector could expanding further the gulf further between rich and poor. Those who can afford it will have a better chance of getting into Oxbridge than those who can’t.
On the flipside, the universities could manage their own finances and ensure that the extra income helped pay for those who are less well-off but rich in ability. Oxbridge will still want to attract the very best students and they know that those come from all walks of life.
Oxbridge have also done things their way. With their separate application system and bespoke entrance exams, they select the students that suit them, often irrespective of A Level grades and traditional qualifications.
By breaking away from the pack, they will continue to work as an elite and by doing so will remain at the top and in demand. If they go private I’m sure it wouldn’t be long before other Russell Group universities follow.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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