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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In debt

Despite having reached a settlement in the Assembly on Top-up fees that provides some relief for Welsh students attending Welsh Higher Education Institutions there are still external pressures to undo that work.

Today's article in The Times is a case in point. They report that Lord Dearing, who first advocated charging tuition fees ten years ago, is to tell vice-chancellors that universities can only remain globally competitive if they charge “differential fees”. He is also going to suggest that in future students could pay some sort of graduate tax.

It is likely that in 2009 the UK Government will lift the cap on tuition fees in England. This will immediately put pressure on the Welsh Assembly Government to either follow suit or find additional money so that Welsh Colleges can compete.

There is no easy solution to this and the only assistance will come if Gordon Brown maintains the principle of no up-front fees. In this instance there may well be additional government money to fund increased fee grants and a Barnett consequential to Wales. We can but hope.


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