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Should UK students be charged university fees? Show more Show less
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Just over twenty years ago, higher education was free in the UK for any student who secured a place on a university course. Flash forward to today and students graduate with an average debt of £50,000. Critics claim this is wildly unfair and inhibits social mobility. Others claim that high fees improve equality. With both sides aiming to reduce inequality, why do the positions on implementing fees and reducing grants contradict each other?

No, the UK should make higher education free for students. Show more Show less

University education should be free for all to access. Education is a human right. The state has a duty to fund free higher education in its annual budget.
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Fees for higher education monetise education as a concept.

The fight for funding from student fees forces universities to act more like business corporations than higher education institutions.


If student fees are meant to fund universities then, naturally, there will be a competition for who can attract the most students. In this way, universities are turned into business and the true value of a university education is monetised.

The Argument

As universities compete for funding they have to market themselves and act like a business. When attracting more pupils becomes the main goal of universities, profit is the ultimate aim. As a direct consequence, other valuable metrics of a good education are ignored in favour of profit, and so the university experience is not valued for its ability to spread knowledge and develop the students' skills and experience. Profit becomes paramount and the initial importance of the university is lost.

Counter arguments

Other arguments say that the reason universities act like businesses is a result of neoliberal policy-making rather than a direct consequence of changes to funding.



P1. Universities with fees have to act like a business. P2. By acting like a business, universities are not really universities. P3. Therefore, students should not have to pay for higher education.

Rejecting the premises

Rejecting P1. Universities without fees will also behave like a business if they are being run according to neoliberal policies.



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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 4 Dec 2019 at 15:13 UTC

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