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Student funding reforms must undergo serious analysis
Wednesday, 06 June 2007
The government has been warned that it needs to hold wider discussions into any planned student funding reforms that might lead to an increasingly 'Americanised' university system in the UK.
Labour has announced plans to remove the cap on student tuition fees, effectively allowing universities to charge rates at their own discretion, but a leading education spokesperson has warned that the pros and cons of any changes must come under full discussion, reports the Guardian.
Speaking to National Conference of University Professors in the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Lady Margaret Sharp warned that, although such funding reforms would come with many benefits, they could also serve to create a more hierarchical and elitist system which would see less students from poorer backgrounds able to attend higher-achieving institutions.
"This has happened in America. If we look around the world in many senses the best system is the American one. They do fantastic research and have a flexible system for all students that meets the needs of the individual much better than the UK," said Lady Sharp.
"The downside of it is that at the top end it's marvellous but we should be aware of the fact that only two per cent of people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds go to Harvard and Yale. Oxford and Cambridge are models by ivy league standards."