Oxford U. official predicts tuition increase

Posted 11:30 p.m. Oct. 4

MANCHESTER, England – Oxford University students could see their tuition skyrocket if the university is to maintain its position as top-notch institution, a college bursar predicted last month.

David Palfreyman, director of the Oxford’s Center for Higher Education Policy Studies and bursar of New College, said such changes would likely be needed to allow the university to compete with leading American universities and meet the needs of poorer students.

Tony Blair and the Labor Government have a goal of enrolling 50 percent of the nation’s students in higher education. However, under the existing funding plan there may not be enough funds in university coffers.

“Unless top-up tuition fees are charged and/or extra endowment capital found, they (the Oxford colleges) will simply, slowly, collectively sink into a steady decline,” Palfreyman said in the Oxford Tutorial, a publication for students.

He also raised the concern that the university would lose its ability to attract researchers since the school lacks the massive endowments that their rival American universities have.

The university stressed that the prediction represented only Palfreyman’s personal views, and said that there are no plans at this time to raise tuition fees.

The current state-mandated tuition for a student at university is just over $1,500. If Palfreyman’s predictions were proved correct, students in more expensive courses such as medicine would pay more than $22,000 a year while other courses would see an increase to more than $7,000.

Most universities and higher education institutions in Europe enjoy heavy government funding making the cost to students small in comparision with their American counterparts. The thought of American-style funding frightens many who fear the prospect of student debt.

However, when the reputation of a school is at stake and the perks that come with it — some are calling for more money any way they can get it.

Palfreyman argued that the existing educational funding scheme in England is regressive and that allowing universities to charge “going rate” fees is the only way to maintain the quality of the undergraduate education and attract researchers.

“Time will also tell whether Oxford and Cambridge … can in the longer term remain internationally competitive in research while at the same time trying to continue to offer a premium — product teaching system for undergraduates,” Palfrey added.

Universities continue to raise the issue of insufficient funds, claiming that an additional $1 billion would be needed per year by 2004 for the schools to remain internationally competitive.

Diana Warwick, chief executive of Universities U.K., said “market rate” tuition fees must remain an open option.

Oxford University is anticipating a deficit of more than $2 million this year.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.