Thursday, 2 December 2010

The last part of the Browne design falls apart

One of the more attractive features of the Browne Report on Higher Education Funding was that its recommendations would have taken central government off the backs of universities (well, a bit).

The funding council's cap on numbers would have been removed, since students were paying almost all their all fees. Why should the Government interfere then with how many people went into HE?

Unfortunately, the system the Coalition Government is in the end recommending a very 'leaky' system of loans, which will be very expensive.

This means that state spending on HE won't fall much - despite a tripling of the burden on new graduates.

So they'll probably adopt a cap on numbers - not that we know much about what the system will look like, because Parliament is being asked to vote on fees before the picture is clearer and the promised White Paper is out in the New Year.

Any university expansion extra fees might have paid for probably won't happen - indeed, the most likely outcome is that the number of places will fall to make way for private providers. So the last element of the Browne jigsaw has been smashed.

Want a lesson on how not to make public policy? Look no further.

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