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Higher student fees is lazy funding option, says union

11 February 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU said today that forcing students to pick up the bill for higher education was an astonishingly weak, but somewhat predictable conclusion from the Policy Exchange.

The union said the think tank's report, More Fees Please?, failed to consider any radical options for the funding of higher education and fell back on the lazy and tired option of students footing the bill.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Has the Policy Exchange really exhausted all the possibilities here or has it decided it wants higher fees for students and written a report to attempt to justify that position? Deciding students should foot the bill is an astonishingly weak, but perhaps not surprising, conclusion. Lord Mandelson recently suggested universities should look to diversify their funding, the Policy Exchange has done the opposite and wishes only to burden students and their families with even more debt.

'Lord Dearing's landmark report at the end of the last century said we needed to look at the balance between who pays for higher education – the state, the student and business. This Policy Exchange report ignores the possibility of the state contributing more, as it is in countries like America, France and Germany as part of fiscal stimuli packages, and completely lets business off the hook. We do not believe handing individual debts of tens of thousands of pounds to the next generation of students makes economic sense, nor do we believe that the most expensive university fees in the world will encourage the brightest people from the poorest backgrounds to apply to university.'

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