The Great University Gamble

Understandably, headlines focused on this dramatic rise in price and its apparent expense for graduates, while obscuring the greater burden placed on the publicly backed student loan scheme, which requires an increase in upfront government borrowing. In the medium term, Public Sector Net Debt is projected to grow by an additional £20 billion as a result. Aided by accounting conventions, BIS is able to show a reduction in departmental expenditure, but, perversely, the standard narrative about deficit reduction and borrowing does not apply here. Instead, the move to a generalised fee and loan regime is part of a more profound transformation of higher education and the public sector in general. The agenda is to create a lightly regulated market of a diverse range of private companies with direct public funding to institutions diluted to homeopathic levels. An experiment is being conducted on English universities; one that is not controlled and that in the absence of any compelling evidence for change threatens an internationally admired and efficient system.

– Andrew McGettigan, The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education

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