Dear Dr Grumble,
I am writing to let you know how we at Grumble's Old College believe the latest Government proposals on University Funding are likely to affect us. The review into Higher Education published by Lord Browne in October proposed that responsibility for funding the cost of teaching should pass to the beneficiaries, i.e. students, in the form of higher tuition fees for home and EU students. The scheme proposed by Lord Browne is inevitably complicated, and the Government’s white paper has not yet been published. However it seems likely that from 2012, students at Grumble's Old College and elsewhere will have to take out loans for significantly higher tuition fees, as well as making separate arrangements for maintenance.
At the same time, the Government has completed its comprehensive spending review for Higher Education, and confirmed that funding for teaching (as opposed to research) will be dramatically cut from 2012/13. In the case of Grumble's Old College, this means that teaching support will be cut by some £40m per year. In theory, this loss will be compensated for by the higher tuition fees paid by students and their families. The proposed tuition fee, to be set between £6000 and £9000 per annum, would be shared between the College and the University in a manner yet to be determined.
So far as Grumble's Old College is concerned, we remain strongly committed to the tutorial system as the cornerstone of teaching for our undergraduates and are determined to maintain it. Almost uniquely, we hold both tuition of undergraduates and supervision of post-graduates in equivalent regard to research. Equally, we are determined to ensure that we continue on a path of needs-blind admissions to our courses. However, given that Grumble's Old College already subsidises its undergraduate teaching by a significant amount per year, even the highest proposed tuition fee will not compensate for what we stand to lose. Indeed, without the College endowment and fundraising, it would have been impossible either to maintain the tutorial system in recent years, or to continue it, whatever the future arrangements.
These are undoubtedly hard times, and we shall have to rely ever more on our investments and fundraising to ensure that we can retain the essential character of the College. In the longer term, our Trust, of which I write in the forthcoming College Record, is precisely intended to contribute eventually towards self-sufficiency for Grumble's Old College. In the meantime, however, we will urgently need to increase the amounts available to support teaching and our students. There will of course be many ways in which our alumni and friends are able to help us if they so wish. Over the coming months we will gradually be able to move to detailed arrangements for funding both teaching and student support, and I shall endeavour to share these with you at the earliest opportunity.
Rector of Grumble's Old College
This letter makes Dr Grumble very angry. He is not angry that Grumble's Old College is softening Grumble up for a begging phone call. He is angry that it has come to this because of the policy of the ConDem government which tries to make out that there is no alternative when plainly there is.
Look at the figures mentioned in the letter. From these a medical student may well leave medical training saddled with a debt of over £50,000. And that is just for the fees. On top of this there is maintenance or, in other words, the money we all need to live on.
Make no mistake. There are other ways to do this. The financial crisis is not forcing this upon us. A political decision has been made by the ConDems that the cost of teaching has to be borne by the students. It is wrong, wrong, wrong. It condemns our students to starting their working life with a yoke of debt. And it is debt that got us into our current financial mess in the first place.