The news comes on the same morning that £7,000 fees are reported to be the preferred option of the Browne review. The union said that an increased burden on students’ families to meet university costs*, also revealed in the NUS survey, was further proof that hiking up the cost of a degree was unfair and the wrong approach. UCU said the government and Lord Browne had to look again at making business pay its fair share for the plentiful supply of graduates it receives every year.
Also this morning a damning international comparison report reveals that the UK is investing less of its gross domestic product in higher education than competitor countries - just 1.3 per cent compared to an average of 1.5 per cent.
The ‘Education at a Glance 2010’ report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also revealed that the UK has dropped from third to 15th in terms of graduation rates. For more on the OECD report visit http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5007
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Sometimes it really is quite staggering just how out of touch politicians are with ordinary hard-working people. Students have been clobbered with fees and top-up fees and every poll on the subject warns that they, and their families, won’t accept another hit.
“Lord Browne needs a reality check before he delivers his funding review if a fee hike is on the cards. He needs to look again at the idea of taxing big business for the substantial benefit it gains from a plentiful supply of graduates, rather than merely looking to penalise students further.
“Increasing fees or other financial barriers to higher education is not the way to deliver a world-class university system. The uncomfortable truth is that for the vast majority of people in this country higher fees would be a disaster. We would see the wealthy able to buy a place at whatever institution they please, whilst the rest scramble around for a place within budget.”