A new study by the Higher Education Commission has cast doubt on the long-term financial sustainability of the current system of funding for England’s universities, saying it represents the “worst of both worlds”
It warns students are paying more but the government is still writing off high levels of student debt.
It has produced a highly critical report on the current arrangements – but admits there is no “magic bullet” in trying to design a better alternative.
The report says that the funding arrangements are unsatisfactory for students, universities and the government.
“The current funding system represents the worst of both worlds.
“The government is funding higher education by writing off student debt, as opposed to directly investing in teaching grants,” says the study.
“Students feel like they are paying substantially more for their higher education, but are set to have a large proportion of their debt written off by the government.
“Universities are perceived to be ‘rolling in money’ in the eyes of students, as their income from tuition fees has tripled, yet the cuts to the teaching grant are not well understood by students and a fixed fee cap means an annual erosion of real terms income.
“We have created a system where everybody feels like they are getting a bad deal. This is not sustainable.”