Tuition fees were increased under the pretext that the allegedly parlous state of the public finances made this move essential. It was pointed out in this blog that, since the existing fees are paid “up front” by students (or their parents) and that under the new scheme fees would not be repaid until later, then the current fees would have to be paid by the government, thus putting the current public finances into even deeper deficit. This obvious fact was little commented on elsewhere.
Now that more universities than anticipated are to charge the “exceptional” £9 000 per year top fee, the government is alarmed that the new scheme is to cost them up to £1bn more than expected over a four year period. It is feared that this “unexpected” expenditure will be recouped by cutting university funding in other areas.
At the same time, by reducing the number of visas for foreign students in order to curb immigration the government is cutting down a valuable source of income for universities. Britain’s higher education still has international prestige and, as well as providing valuable funds for universities, is a valuable source of foreign currency earnings.