Funding for Higher Education - A Gamble on the Market?

1 November 2010

Chris Smith

Chris Smith

Former Head of Digital Transformation

Lord Browne’s long awaited report into the funding of the Higher Education sector has now been published and the Government has recently revealed details of Comprehensive Spending Review. The debate now amongst colleagues in the sector is whether this is a gamble on the market

In his report lord Bowne suggests that the HE sector “should embrace the challenge of efficiency much as every part of society is doing”. He also revealed that in his committee’s view an annual fee of £7,000 was necessary for universities just to stand still. In the Government Spending Review it has been suggested that the teaching budget be cut by 40% and Arts and Humanities courses lose all their state funding.

So what are the options for universities to respond to these challenges? Is it to simply raise fees and compete in the market, although Nick Clegg has intimated there may be a ceiling on fees, to focus on the international student market, compete based on its research reputation? What is certain do nothing and continue as before is not an option.

In fact, if Lord Browne is correct it is competition and student choice that will be the main drivers of quality in the sector and enable the UK to maintain its position in the HE world stage.

What are your thoughts? Is this a gamble on the market?

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