Oxford fears fund shortfall under government plan

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Old 29-Oct-2010
Oxford fears fund shortfall under government plan

London: The vice-chancellor of Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, said UK government plans to change the way higher education is financed may leave the institution with a funding shortfall.

A review published October 12 by John Browne, the former chief executive officer of BP, rejected the option of a graduate tax and proposed ending the current cap on tuition fees.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, who oversees universities, said the government "endorses the main thrust" of the report, though he told Sky News television on October 24 that "I don't think there is any prospect of having unlimited fees".

"If fees were raised to 7,000 [Dh40,608] a year a figure that has featured prominently in Browne and in government comment no additional income would come to the university," vice-chancellor Andrew Hamilton wrote in an undated letter published on the university's website.

"Under any future funding regime, the collegiate university is going to have to do all it can to find additional resources."

The Browne report proposed students should fund the fees with government-backed loans, and repay them at a rate of nine per cent of any income above 21,000 a year.

Under the current system, fees are capped at 3,290 a year, with the government making up some of the shortfall. Students take out interest-free loans and repay them after graduation.

"The review does hold out the prospect of fees rising above 7,000 but, even if approved, much of the extra money [at least as envisaged under Browne] would go into a national levy, not to the university," Hamilton said.

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