UK universities are at risk of falling in prestige if tuition fees are not raised, a senior academic has warned.
Professor A C Grayling, founder and master of the New College of the Humanities, said that top institutions were subsidising student degrees “to the tune of around £70 million a year”.
Students at Grayling’s institution pay fees of up to £18,000 a year, and he suggested that this was what was needed to maintain high levels of university performance.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Grayling said: “If Eton, Harrow and Winchester charge £30,000 a year, why is Cambridge charging half what it costs them to teach an undergraduate, when they could be doing the same?”
He then suggested Britain alters “the culture of giving in this country”, by changing to the American system of endowments.
Grayling’s comments were in response to the Labour Party’s proposals who pledged their support for lowering tuition fees in the last month.
The leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has promised a reduction in tuition fees if his party is elected into government next year.
However, opposition from the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, may hinder the Opposition leader in adding this to his manifesto.
Balls expressed concerns that the estimated loss of £2 billion would make the scheme unsustainable.
Novelist Philip Pullman has echoed Miliband’s concerns, describing fees as “criminal” and part of a “dreadful system”.
Research by Universities UK has revealed that the number of non-EU students studying in the UK fell by over two thousand in the last two years.
Oscar Mumford, a second year student at The University of Edinburgh, told to The Student: “providing higher education is of fundamental importance to any society. Of course an education costs money but I think you shouldn’t be putting the burden of fees on students, as it benefits society in the long run.”
Grayling’s comments follow German authorities announcing that their universities were now all non-paying institutions.
Last week, Lower Saxony became the last German state to abolish fees, after popular protest at the introduction of fees in 2006 led to individual states abandoning the fee system.
Dorothee Stapelfeldt, Hamburg’s senator for science, told The Independent that tuition fees “discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study.”
A recent study for the website topuniversities.com highlighted that Germany has risen to the fourth most popular country for study after the UK, the USA and Australia.