Exeposé News Issue 613, Page 5 (15 October 2013) and Exeposé News online (21 October 2013)
Call for higher tuition fees for elite universities
Oxford University’s vice-chancellor has called for a new system allowing top universities to charge higher tuition fees than those providing an inferior education.
Professor Andrew Hamilton claimed in an annual speech that each university should be able to charge fees “aligned with what it offers”, in order to reflect the variation in standards of education among British universities.
Hamilton stated: “Given the great diversity of the institutions in our higher education system, the notion of different universities charging significantly different amounts doesn’t feel inherently unnatural. It is the current situation that seems out of kilter”.
He also claimed that such increases in fees should not prevent students accessing top universities, providing the correct financial support is available.
Hamilton called for a new system that would help ease the £70m annual shortfall which, he said, could potentially threaten Oxford’s world-class education.
Defending the proposal, and the financial burden increased student loans would place on the public, Hamilton argued it would be a sound investment, stating: “so far as Oxford is concerned, all the evidence indicates that the quality of the education a student receives here is overwhelmingly his or her best investment for their future.”
Decline in language degrees
The number of universities offering specialist modern language degrees has decreased rapidly in recent years, according to analysis conducted by Guardian Education.
Despite the Confederation of British Industry branding lack of linguistic ability a “tax on UK trade”, 24 universities have removed specialist modern language degrees (single honours, or joint honours with another language) from their programmes over the past six years.
Anglia Ruskin and Wolverhampton are amongst 11 universities to have stopped offering language courses completely, whilst 13 others, including Goldsmiths and Sheffield Hallam, now only offer modern languages when combined with another subject.
Declining student numbers are regarded as a main reason for the extensive closures of language departments, which due to relatively high staffing levels are often more expensive to run when compared with other subjects. The Higher Education Funding Council for England recently pledged an extra £3.1m in funding to aid struggling language departments.