If University Students Face Top-Up Fees, Who's Next?

The Journal (Newcastle, England), February 2, 2004 | Go to article overview

If University Students Face Top-Up Fees, Who's Next?


Byline: By Kevin Rowan

Motivation is, for me, a key issue when analysing the actions or behaviour of individuals or organisations.

What are the principal beliefs and values that drive forward particular agendas of change? Last week's "to-the-wire" confrontation between the Labour Government and the so-called rebels is one area that presents major cause for concern when applying the motivation test.

On the one hand, we have a government trying to balance public borrowing and public spending with the revenue it receives from taxation.

The Government is, for understandable reasons, albeit for ones I don't necessarily agree with, reluctant to increase taxation. As a consequence, all aspects of public spending are closely scrutinised. Our universities should be properly funded so they can maintain and increase the excellence we expect from them. Society benefits greatly from increasing and improving individual access to higher education, especially for students from poorer backgrounds.

Achieving these objectives is not easy, but then since when has government been easy? However, the role of government should be much more than simply balancing the books.

Governments should also be underpinned by a set of values and principles that inform the decisions they make. That is, after all, why people have different political views. And this is where the question of motivation comes in.

I have spoken at length with many people about the subject of tuition and top-up fees. There has been serious discussion about front-loading the support system for students, deferring repayment and minimising interest payments, all of which is important. …

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