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THE: Free market on fees threatens rough ride in 'perfect storm'

Many universities set to lose income overall if cap is lifted, researcher warns. Simon Baker reports.

The English universities seeking to have the cap on tuition fees removed may be “turkeys voting for Christmas”, as such a move could actually reduce their income, an academic has cautioned.

For many in higher education, this move aims to correct Labour’s “mistake” of sticking with terms such as tuition fees, loans and, as a consequence, debt, when the system was last overhauled in 2004.

Janet Beer, vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and chair of the University Alliance group, said language was a problem, but it should not prevent reform of the system.

The University Alliance has proposed a graduate contribution scheme linked to earnings, but crucially wants to keep the link between individual universities and what their graduates pay.

“This is not just a rebranding exercise. The current system needs reform, but certainly the emotive nature of the word ‘debt’ is clouding the issue,” she said.

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