Cut state funding to universities. Let them stand alone | Terence Kealey – Times Online
This could never even be thought of here, could it?
Wonderful news. The Government yesterday cut half a billion pounds from the money it gives to universities, a real term cut of 9.2 per cent. The Government needs only to cut a few more billion from the budget to guarantee the excellence of British higher education.
The myth is that higher education is a public good and that, in the absence of subsidies, only the occasional scion of an investment banker would attend university. But the reality — as shown by the surge in applications since the introduction of top up fees — is that higher education is a very private good indeed, whose benefits accrue almost solely to the student: over their careers graduates still earn £160,000 more on average than people with only A levels.
The problem is not that the Government funds universities per se but that the Government funds universities in ways that damage them. So the universities are not allowed to determine how many students to admit or charge the fees the market would bear. Both parameters are set by politicians. Imagine how good Sainsbury’s would be if a ministry of food determined its prices and the numbers of its customers.