A report published by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) has sharply criticised the likely results of cross-party agreement on funding British universities.
The government, just like the Tories, wants to imitate the US system of higher education. But we must examine what they want to imitate!
Currently, British universities’ fees are capped at £3,145 a year. The USA’s Ivy League universities’ fees average $26,273 a year, £17,005.
But high fees don’t work: the US system is failing. Harvard University, like the others, relies on endowments invested in equities to compensate for falling state funding. Its endowment was $37 billion in June 2008: it is now $25 billion. Last year it announced 275 job cuts.
Since our universities anyway lack such endowments, bringing in US-style fees will completely undermine our current system of higher education. The report is also highly critical of the effects on standards of customer-led development in the universities, another feature of the US system, as well as privatisation.
• Privatising our Universities, published by the Universities and Colleges Union, February 2010 is available at www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/9/6/ucu_privatisingouruniversities_feb10.pdf