[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Fees 'fail to benefit students'
students
Students now pay up to 3,000 a year for tuition
The university experience has not been improved by the introduction of tuition fees 10 years ago, students and lecturers say.

A decade ago, Lord Dearing produced a report on higher education, paving the way for the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to introduce tuition fees.

But the National Union of Students said students had gained little in return for thousands of pounds spent in fees.

The University and College Union said poor staff pay had not been resolved.

Speaking ahead of a conference on the 10th anniversary of the Dearing Report, NUS vice-president Wes Streeting said: "For students and their families, the most significant impact of the Dearing Report is that it paved the way for the 3,000 variable yearly fees that they now pay.

Students are being turned into consumers of their education, but they have precious few consumer rights
Wes Streeting, NUS

"As a group, students now stump up more than the 25% contribution to the costs of higher education that Lord Dearing envisaged.

"But where are the corresponding improvements in the education they receive?

"And where is the industry money that Dearing also recommended should be pumped in to the sector?

"Students are being turned into consumers of their education, but they have precious few consumer rights."

Many were now forced to sign "one-sided student contracts" promising to work hard but had in return "little recourse" for poor quality teaching, he said.

Ministers are due to review the fees system in two years and many predict that the 3,000 cap on what universities can charge will be raised or possibly lifted completely.

A changed landscape

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said that the low levels of staff pay that the Dearing Report identified in 1997 had still not been settled.

She said: "The Dearing Report in 1997 dramatically changed higher education forever.

"Dearing correctly identified the future health of higher education as being entirely dependent on its staff.

"Ten years on and the incredible work being done by staff in our universities is still not being properly rewarded.

"The worries highlighted about recruiting and retaining the very best staff are an even greater concern now than they were a decade ago.

"If we are to maintain our proud international reputation as a global leader in higher education, we must urgently invest in our staff."

University still popular

However, the government says statistics from the university admissions service, Ucas, indicate higher fees are not putting students off going to university.

Ucas figures show that, by the end of March 2007 there had been 5.2% more applicants across the UK compared with March 2006, at 446,765.

Ministers say a range of grants and bursaries help students to cover the extra fees and living costs.

Unlike previous tuition fees, students no longer have to pay "up front" - instead fees are covered by a loan, repayable by graduates once their annual income passes 15,000.


SEE ALSO
Do universities need new inquiry?
20 Jul 07 |  Education
Your views on university changes
25 Jul 07 |  Education
Tuition fees 'may rise to 6,000'
18 Jan 07 |  Education

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific