Calls for University support to be spent on students, not gimmicks

Guardian journalist, Liam Burns, believes that the Government’s plans to focus on fee waivers over bursaries for poorer students is the latest in a series of blunders regarding higher education policies, simply because “fee waivers don’t work.”

Liam addresses the fact that, despite the Government’s assurances that fees above £6,000 would only occur in “exceptional circumstances”, it is now estimated that the average fee for universities is less than £8,000. Liam believes this reported reduced figure, considering that most universities have opted to charge the full £9,000, is the result of discounted fees for poorer students, rather than on bursaries that would reach students directly.

He claims that fee waivers do not actually reduce the amount of money that students pay back and believes this money should have been invested and best spent on teaching resources, outreach programmes and crucially, bursaries.

The solution, he believes, should be underpinned by four key principles:

  • Replacing the National Scholarship Programme with one that is based on student needs rather than on a first-come first-served lottery.
  • Ensure that students know what support they will receive before they apply.
  • Entrusting the student with the responsibility of deciding how to spend the support they receive rather than pushing institutions towards fee waivers.
  • Finally, if fee waivers are to be used, make them total remissions which would genuinely allay students’ access concerns.

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