Financing Higher Education: Answers from the UK

By Nicholas Barr; Iain Crawford | Go to book overview
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Chapter 6

1991 Pulling the arguments together

Nicholas Barr (1991), 'Income-contingent Student Loans: An Idea Whose Time Has Come', in G. K. Shaw (ed.), Economics, Culture and Education: Essays in Honour of Mark Blaug, Edward Elgar, pp. 155-70.


The historical backdrop


Introductory matters

This paper tells a story with three elements. First is the development of a set of coherent theoretical propositions, emanating in part from the Robbins Report (1963), which underpin the intellectual case for income-contingent student loans. Second is the story of how long it took and how much campaigning until their gradual implementation in the late 1980s. Third, and by way of a grace note (perhaps a disgrace note), is how the British government, in introducing an ill-conceived loan scheme in 1990, missed a golden opportunity to take the Robbins proposals a large step forward.

Section 1 summarizes the history of the student loans debate in Britain. The relevant economic theory is discussed in section 2, and its implications for policy design in section 3. Section 4 looks at loan schemes, actual or proposed, in Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and describes recent British developments.

Funding for higher education derives from five broad sources: from government in the form of grants or scholarships: 1 from the student


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