Cutting tuition fees might not be a good idea for poorer students, the government’s new social mobility tsar has claimed.
Martina Milburn, the latest chair of the Social Mobility Commission, told The Observer: “Cutting fees will certainly help a certain sector. Whether it helps the right young people, I’m not convinced.”
“There’s also evidence that if you remove tuition fees altogether, there would be a certain number of young people from particular backgrounds who wouldn’t be able to go to university at all – but if you restore something like the education maintenance allowance or a version of it, I think you would widen participation. That’s a personal view.”
Last month a government proposal suggested that students in England should be offered 2-year fast track courses to cut down approximately 20 per cent tuition fees.
Nation Union of Students doubt whether students views have been heard. Shakira Martin, NUS UK President, told Westminster World: “Whilst we will always welcome more flexibility and choice for students, the impact of such proposals must be properly thought through, particularly when it comes to the impact on students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is critical those voices are listened to.”
The social mobility tsar suggested returning to a system of targeted maintenance grants might be better to help students who come from low-income background.
However, there are suggestions that some universities could be allowed to raise fees for some subjects – such as science and medicine – to up to £13,500 a year.
A recent research from the Higher Education Policy Institute was worried that less than half of universities’ tuition fee income is spent on teaching.
Meanwhile how those new ideas would apply to oversea students have not been discussed yet. However the fees for international students have “already spiraled out of control” in recent years, said Shakira Martin. “Our system should not treat students from abroad as cash cows.”
University of Westminster, who offers traditional 3-year courses, said they would listen to the market needs. Paul O’Hanlon, the admission manager, added: “Students should also have university experience as well as the academia.”