University challenge

June 15, 2011, 5:54 PM GMT+0

Nearly half of British people believe that initiatives such as AC Grayling’s new private university will damage rather than help the university system in the UK, our poll for The Sunday Times has shown. Nearly two thirds label the new university, which will charge fees of up to £18,000 a year, as ‘elitist’, while nearly half simply regard the plan for the private university as ‘a bad idea’.

  • 44% of British people believe that private initiatives will damage the university system in the UK
  • Just 16% think that it will help the system
  • Nearly two thirds of people (64%) think it is justified to criticise the new private university as elitist
  • While 47% say that the concept of a group of high profile academics launching a new private university charging fees of up to £18,000 a year is ‘a bad idea’
  • 41% agree that the one-to-one tutelage by top professors such as AC Grayling and Richard Dawkins is not worth the £18,000 price tag
  • 54% oppose the policy which will see around two-thirds of universities charging the new maximum yearly tuition fee of £9,000
  • And while 37% feel that students should fund most of the cost of their university education, 46% say that the Government should fund most of it from normal taxation, such as income tax or VAT

Mind the funding gap

The announcement that leading academics such as AC Grayling and Richard Dawkins (pictured, above), are set to launch the ‘New College of the Humanities’, a private university in England aiming to rival Oxford and Cambridge, has attracted controversy. Opening in September 2012, the privately-owned, London-based college plans to charge fees of £18,000, double that of the new £9,000 highest limit on tuition fees for universities in the rest of the country. The unpopular idea comes as the Government continues to deal with intense feeling across the country regarding the rise in tuition fees.

When the cap on fees was raised last year it was said that the highest rate of £9,000 could only be charged in ‘exceptional circumstances’, but more universities than expected are choosing to charge the maximum. This miscalculation could lead to a funding gap worth hundreds of millions of pounds, it was revealed earlier this month. Because the Government will pay for tuition fees, with graduates only paying them back gradually once (or if) they are earning a salary over £21,000, some MPs have estimated that the fee increase could cost taxpayers £95m a year.