Financing Higher Education: Answers from the UK

By Nicholas Barr; Iain Crawford | Go to book overview

Chapter 15

2003 The Higher Education White Paper: a critique

Nicholas Barr (2003), 'Financing Higher Education: Lessons from the UK Debate', Political Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 3, June 2003, pp. 371-81.

Though directly an assessment of the 2003 White Paper on higher education in England and Wales, 1 this paper offers analysis and strategic conclusions that apply to all advanced countries. After introductory discussion, successive sections weigh up current arrangements (generally unfavourably), assess the White Paper strategy (generally favourably) and discuss the follow-up actions necessary to ensure that the strategy works. A concluding section stresses political leadership, portrays two contrasting futures and summarises broader lessons for policy design.


Introductory matters

Higher education in the UK faces three widely agreed problems: universities are underfunded, students are poor, and the proportion of students from poorer backgrounds has not changed significantly in forty years. Thus higher education funding puts national economic performance at risk and sells the poor down the river.

There is also agreement about core objectives: strengthening quality and diversity, and promoting access, both for their own sakes and for

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