Now, there are some pretty serious problems with charging students such fee, and with the system of repayments in place. One of my concerns is that the fee system has been poorly explained to students, meaning the sums involved act as a significant deterrent to children from poorer families (who are more likely to more debt-averse than their richer peers) applying to university at all.
Under the current system, universities can all cluster around the top of the fee scale: all colleges, whatever their quality, charge £9,000 a year in fee. Even under the new rules that will take effect next year, there is every prospect that all, or very nearly all, colleges will be able to charge £9,250, the maximum annual fee. A man who graduates in economics, for instance, will typically be earning £55,000 a year a decade later. For those with creative arts degrees, however, the figure is £18,000. Yet each would currently pay the same for their degree.
Of course, it would be nice to have a system where those who attend less glamorous colleges or do less lucrative degrees pay significantly less than others. But realistically for fee, the only way is up. Time to let the best colleges, whose students will go on to earn more, charge more in fee.