Despite increasing financial pressures on higher education systems throughout the world, many governments remain resolutely opposed to the introduction of tuition fees, and some countries and states where tuition fees have been long established are now reconsidering free higher education. Gill Wyness will present a paper she co-authored with Richard Murphy and Judith-Scott-Clayton, which examines the consequences of charging tuition fees on university quality, enrolments, and equity. To do so, they study the English higher education system which has, in just two decades, moved from a free college system to one in which tuition fees are among the highest in the world. Their findings suggest that England’s shift has resulted in increased funding per head, rising enrolments, and a narrowing of the participation gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. In contrast to other systems with high tuition fees, the English system is distinct in that its income-contingent loan system keeps university free at the point of entry, and provides students with comparatively generous assistance for living expenses. They conclude that tuition fees, at least in the English case supported their goals of increasing quality, quantity, and equity in higher education.

Speaker Bio:

Dr Gill Wyness is a lecturer in Economics at the University College London Institute of Education where her main interest is in quantitative research on higher education. Gill is currently running an ESRC-funded project examining the impact of university bursaries on drop-out and degree performance, using data collected from 25 UK universities.

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