Response to announcement of fees review

09 November 2009

In response to the written ministerial statement announcing the ‘Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance’, Director General of The Russell Group of Universities, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:

“We greatly look forward to working with Lord Browne who brings a wealth of business experience and academic links to this review.

“As universities are facing severe economic conditions and ferocious global competition it is clear that the status quo is not viable. Our leading institutions cannot continue to be internationally competitive, provide a first-rate teaching experience and offer generous support to disadvantaged students without access to increased funding.

“The introduction of fees has managed to halt a long-term decline in funding. Without fees, universities will have struggled to maintain facilities, retain leading academics and offer generous bursaries to poorer students. However investment in higher education in the UK remains significantly lower than our competitor countries.

"We look forward to contributing to what we hope will be a thoughtful and considered review. The Russell Group has been investigating a range of options to solve the funding crisis and to ensure that financial burden is spread more fairly. The state, employers and graduates benefit hugely from universities, but at the moment the taxpayer still foots the lion's share of the bill. An increase in tuition fees is clearly one of the most effective of those options but we want to be sure about the impact of any changes to fee levels on students before advocating one particular option. The evidence, to date, is very promising. Since the introduction of variable fees in 2006 the number of students applying to university, from all social backgrounds, has greatly increased. This is not surprising because educational under-achievement - not finance - remains the key reason for a lower proportion of working-class students in higher education.” 

Policy area

Related case studies