Focus on: Unlimited tuition fees

The end of British university system as we know it?

A major review of university funding has recommended that there should be no caps on the tuition fees that British universities are able to set. The review, led by former BP chief Lord Browne, resulted in the consensus that the current cap of £3,290 per year should be lifted.

If the proposals were accepted by the government, prospective students could expect to pay anything up to around £12,000 per year in fees alone. According to Browne, the rise in fees would create a 10 per cent increase in university places - to meet rising demand for higher education. He also predicted that most universities would not increase their fees by large amounts, despite being allowed to do so.

Under the proposed system, graduates would start to repay their student debts once they earn over £21,000. At present, graduates with a salary over over £15,000 are required to make repayments on their loans.

Ben Howlett, National Chairman of Conservative Future said: "The Browne review out today illustrates the mess that that Labour have left us with. This report proposes some difficult changes to the system, ones we must support given Labour's failure. In an ideal world fees would not need to go up, however there is no other option but to increase them, something that the NUS also recognises. If only Labour recognised the need to reform the higher education sector earlier, the changes the Government must now make would not have to be as large."

However, the Lib Dems are strongly against a rise in tuition fees, and therefore it is unlikely that the coalition government will take Lord Browne's proposals on board.

Readers' opinions It's totally unfair, because it would make the best universities even more elitist. Imagine if fees go up to ten grand a year and you stay at university for five years - you might be paying back that debt for the rest of your life.

James Morley, Cambridge University

This change would be a disaster. It would limit our country's knowledge capacity, as only the rich will be able to afford to go to top universities. Poorer people would be limited to lower class knowledge.

Dana Zhinger, Imperial College

I find these plans deeply worrying. It represents the final stage in the commercialisation of education that we have witnessed over the last few decades. Higher education has been one of the most important vehicles for social mobility in Britain over the years, and we are now in danger of our university system becoming as rigidly divided as our school system.

Oliver Grant, Oxford University

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