The news that, despite its lowly position in passing league tables, LSBU is to try to charge its new UGs almost as much as Oxford (and Bath) shows the absurdist position of the new funding arrangements for English universities. No wonder the man who used to be the Sage of Twickenham looks more like someone out of his Thyme (I know! It's a rotten pun — like most of the ones you have to think about).
LSBU's position is that it needs to do this because all taxpayer funding for most of its UG courses has now been removed by the government, and it seems to me to be this element of the new settlement which is the greatest betrayal, rather than the hike in the top limit to fees. See yesterday's Telegraph for a comment on that limit.
The original increase in fees to £3000 was based on the understanding that this would represent a partnership of sorts: funding by the taxpayer and by the student, based on the reality that both the individual, and society more widely, benefit from HE. It was the rationality and justice of this duality that underpinned my enthusiastic support for the initial fee increase — and the understanding that there would be bursaries, scholarships, and the like to defray the costs of this to those from less affluent backgrounds, and continuing attempts to attract them in the first place.
I wrote at the top of this piece that "LSBU is to try to charge its new UGs ...". Question is: will they get away with it — and will anyone ever forgive Vince – even though he's trying to fight back?