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Is the UK right to charge its students for higher education? Show more Show less

Just over twenty years ago, higher education was free in the UK for any student who secured a place on a university course. Flash forward to today and students graduate with an average debt of £50,000. Critics claim this is wildly unfair and inhibits social mobility. Others claim that high fees improve equality. With both sides aiming to reduce inequality, why do the positions on implementing fees and reducing grants contradict each other?
Others believe that charging for education is the only certain way we can guarantee a constant source of funding for universities, and that it is fairer to only charge those who use the service for accessing it.
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We need to charge students because it is unrealistic to make all public services free without harming the quality of service.

Without fees, the service universities can offer would be radically reduced.

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Context

Most years, just over 400,000 young people go to university[1]. If we want to keep the quality of education high, we need to charge for higher education.

The Argument

With so many young people going to university it is impossible to ask the government to fund an ever-increasing number of people going to university. To fund other vital services, such as the NHS, some services need to be charged for; in this case, education. If you want to keep quality the same but quantity radically increased then there must be a tipping point, hence why tuition fees help to keep the standard of education high.

Counter arguments

There is some question about the cost of universities themselves, with university lecturers claiming that they certainly have not benefited from the fee change[2]. If costs are not increasing by as much as is claimed, then it remains to be seen where this money is going and what it is spent on.

Premises

P1. More students are going to university. P2. The government has the same amount of funding for universities each year and cannot pay for everyone to go. P3. Consequently, if the government cannot pay then the students who go must pay.

Rejecting the premises

Rejecting P2. There are questions over who the funding goes to and what it pays for.

References

  1. https://www.ucas.com/corporate/news-and-key-documents/news/record-percentage-young-people-are-university
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/aug/22/university-teaching-staff-pay-research

Proponents

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 4 Dec 2019 at 15:16 UTC