Thursday 31 October 2002

Let the customer pay

A big row is developing about university tuition. The Principal of St Andrews, Dr Brian Lang has:
split from the country’s other universities by calling for the effective privatisation of the sector, demanding that the Scottish Executive now tables proposals requiring students to pay several thousands of pounds a year.
I have heard all the usual leftists say that it would be outrageous for students to pay the full cost of their education. In other words, the taxpayers in general, most of whom don't go to university, should subsidise those who do. Nonsense. Make the customers pay. Incidentally, the total cost need not be as high as some think. In the Edinburgh Evening News, Peter Clarke says:
Yet universities see themselves as nationalised industries unable to charge the market rates for their ability to boost the life chances of students enjoying the strange mixture of scholarship and holiday camp that is college life. Edinburgh is certainly far richer for our universities. Perhaps they might copy the example of Britain’s only private university. At Buckingham you graduate in two years rather than the leisurely four. It is perplexing that so much of education’s horizons are still set by the needs of the medieval harvest seasons.
Private universities are they way forward.